Last night I felt like seeing a movie. If I really wanted to look alive and place my finger on the pulse of what people care about in pop culture, I probably should have seen Shrek Forever After or MacGruber. Instead I chilled the eff out and went to see Disney Nature’s Oceans, produced by Winged Migration‘s Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud. I’m pretty terrified of the entire animal kingdom, but I like fish because they’re usually contained in glass and can’t hurt me. The character in Oceans definitely couldn’t hurt me because fish can’t swim through screens!
This movie is beautiful. To me it felt more artistic than documentary. There were barely any words, and when there were, Pierce Brosnan was saying them. Everything was slow and measured. Most of the “scenes” were just long shots of different crazy fish. I’d get lost in marveling at how ridiculous it is that such shapes and color combos can occur naturally — that’s just how they are?! — and then Pierce Brosnan would just softly name what I was looking at. I liked being let in on a series of underwater secrets from the lilting brogue of an Irishman who wasn’t throwing it in my face that he’s smarter than me about science.
I had trouble believing some of the fish were even real — everything seemed so otherworldly, like a fantasy creature from a sci-fi novel, or deliberate and planned, like a completed Project Runway outfit with impeccable construction and innovation. I wanted to pluck some black-and-white patterned eels from the screen and turn them into necklaces. Plenty of species were presented — jumping blue whales, crabs that travel in sheets of thousands. My favorites were the pure visual delights, the ones so weird-looking they almost seemed silly: the Spanish Dancer sea slug doing a flamenco, the intricate leafy sea dragon I’d like to place in the corner of a basket of pastel-dyed Easter eggs, and, as Owen Gleiberman mentioned in EW’s review, “the crinkly body of a ray so svelte and multicolored it looks like a rippling Hermès scarf.”
Just as I wanted the beauty pageant of stunning freaks to go on forever, a diver crept into the shot at least two-thirds though. Gross! A person! It was cool to see divers mimic the fish and nearly blend in, but the voiceovers became heavy-handed and even a bit political. I’m all for keeping the whales safe in theory, but in this movie I’d have preferred if there was no human element at all.
Oceans is rated G for “gem” and is still playing in over 900 theaters (it was released on Earth Day). Take the trip.
Annie on Twitter: @EWAnnieBarrett