Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Big Miracle

Big Miracle – 107min – PG

This movie is based on real life events that happened in Alaska in the 80s. There were three whales that were blocked by the ice and could not get out to migrate to warmer waters. It’s the world that came together and worked out a way to get them out. This movie is a Green light film for its nostalgic qualities but I am a sentimental sap

I remember this news story when it happened. I followed the story and it was a good retelling. It was interesting to see from a closer perspective than just what we saw on the news. Adam Carlson (John Krasinski), a local news reporter doing a few pieces on a small Alaskan town, finds some blue whales trapped in the ice and unable to get to the open sea. He does a story on them and it gets picked up nationally.

The focus on this story is so big that it draws the attention of Greenpeace and reunites Adam with his ex-girlfriend and Greenpeace volunteer Rachel (Drew Barrymore). Looking to generate some good press the local oil drilling company CEO J.W. McGraw (Ted Danson) lends his ice breaking equipment to the cause. The news story get so much focus that governments also work together to help the whales.

A subtext to the story is how this event affects the locals, the Inupiat people. The movie examines one native boy, Nathan (Ahmaogak Sweeney), wrestling with the impact of his family’s traditions and the exposure to the world outside of his community. Nathan’s grandfather, Malik (John Pingayak), struggles to engage Nathan in his family’s heritage.

What I like about this story is that Adam respects Malik’s beliefs and does not intrude on the lessons he is trying to teach Nathan. He is very supportive of the people and their culture. Ahmaogak Sweeney and John Pingayak are first time actors; they do a remarkable job of bringing the grandfather/ grandson relationship to life. I would be interested in learning more about these two characters because of their authenticity.

This story does a great job of keeping the focus on the whales and only mentions in passing the differences of politics and cultural beliefs that are normally in conflict. Ken Kwapis directs the film with a good balance of historical facts and fictional elements. This is a great journey for the family without feeling preached to.

Movies based on historical events are harder to do right in my opinion. Who walked into the movie called Titanic and expected a happy ending? Because people already know how a story ends makes it important to really make the characters identifiable so people care about the inevitable.

Spoilers here!!!! History doesn’t have a corner on the Spoiler market.

Kristen Bell plays a reporter that is truly dedicated to her profession. I loved the part where she had frozen feed because she did not want to buy any cardboard to stand on. She made a convincing reporter willing to do anything and be completely emotionally detached when they got the news Bam-Bam died.

The oil company and Greenpeace working together is not who you would pick as partners. Kathy Baker was wonderful as the wife of the Oil Company CEO. She manipulated the situation to work toward the whale’s advantage supremely. I loved how she knew just the right thing to say to get the desired outcome.

I was unimpressed with the unneeded cameo by Sarah Palin. They had some old footage of her when she was working the news in Alaska so they fit it into the film. It really added nothing to the film other than a “huh” moment at the end. They could have dropped it and been fine.

What animal focused movie made you cry in the theater? It could be real or animated.

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