February 3, 2012

Big Miracle- Movie Insight

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Title: Big Miracle

Director: Ken Kwapis

Screenwriter: Jack Amiel, Michael Begler, from Thomas Rose’s book “Free the Whales”

Cast: Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Kristen Bell, Dermot Mulroney, Tim Blake Nelson, Vinessa Shaw, Ted Danson

The success of last year's "Dolphin Tale"proved this theorem: Imperiled marine animals + true-ish story + workmanlike sincerity + happy ending = a hit. Will the equation hold for director Ken Kwapis' whale movie"Big Miracle"?

Politics makes strange bedfellows. Who would have thought that so many individuals with different cultures and conflicting ideologies could unify in the remote northern regions of Alaska, all working toward the same goals albeit for different reasons? Ken Kwapis does a great job in recreating what must have been covered in one way or another by the National Geographic Channel, employing the big screen to milk audience emotions in a movie that bears some of the tensions you might expect in a thriller. The film boasts a PG rating from the MPAA (there might of been a time that “hell” and “damn” would not have garnered such liberality). “Big Miracle,” with a screenplay by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler from Thomas Rose’s “Free the Whales,” is inspired by a true story that allegedly riveted an international TV audience in 1988.

The screenplay by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler takes what it likes from Thomas Rose's nonfiction account "Freeing the Whales: How the Media Created the World's Greatest Non-Event" and cooks up the rest. (Per Rose's "non-event" subtitle, whales being trapped under ice was nothing new; in this instance, however, the media machine was around to sell it.) The result is more about heart than the human comedy, but the script is cleverly balanced and structured.

What does a local newsman do for warmth in this sort of weather? This allows director Ken Kwapis to trot out Drew Barrymore’s Rachel, a Greenpeace volunteer who is less than diplomatic toward the people with the power to save the three whales–a woman who was dumped some time back by newsman Adam and who will obviously connect once again with the woman who, he says, drives him crazy. As for the whales, they look realistic enough but are animatronic creations made a world away in Auckland, New Zealand, but who have too many worries about survival to remember their names–baby Bamm Bamm, mother Wilma and daddy Fred. Why do Eskimos, who spear and eat whales (although not the gray whales in the cast); an fellow for whom Alaska means nothing more than a place to drill for oil; a Soviet barge during the icy days of the Cold War; the President of the United States; and an environmentalist all doing working together? Only Rachel Kramer is sincere in her love for the big creatures: for the others, it’s all PR, but who cares? As long as they get the job done.
Overall Verdict: Watch Worthy once

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