Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Big Miracle

Coming Together

Rated: NR  Language
Release Date: February 3, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 47 min

Director: Ken Kwapis
Writers: Jack Amiel, Michael Beglar, from the book "Freeing the Whales" by Thomas Rose
Cast: Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Ted Danson, Dermot Mulroney, Kristen Bell, Vinessa Shaw, Tim Blake Nelson

SYNOPSIS: While shooting a series of news stories in Barrow, Alaska, a cameraman and reporter discovers a family of whales trapped under miles of frozen Arctic Circle ocean with only a single access to air. A Greenpeace volunteer, an oil businessman, the Alaskan National Guard, and the entire community of the small town at the "Top of the world" try to keep the whales alive long enough to come up with a plan to get them to the open ocean.

REVIEW: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants director Ken Kwapis returns to the big screen with the big true story of three whales in the Arctic Circle trapped under rapidly forming ice with no escape to the open ocean. Based on the true story and the book "Freeing the Whales" by Thomas Rose, Raising Helen writers Jack Amiel and Michael Begler take on some mighty massive mammals. 

Small town Alaskan reporter Adam Carlson (John Krasinski, The Office) spends this time providing color news pieces for the Anchorage news channel. During one of the last days of filming, he discovers that a family of grey whales is trapped under the ice outside of the town of Barrow, with only a single unfrozen area to come up through for air. After the Anchorage newscast piece airs at the national level, the situation grabs the attention of Adam's ex-girlfriend, passionate Greenpeace volunteer Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore, Everybody's Fine) flies up to try and find a way to rescue and save the whales. Filled with fight, Rachel forces the attention of Alaskan Northern Oil Corporation CEO J.W. McGraw (Ted Danson, Damages), the Alaska's governor Haskell (Stephen Root, J. Edgar), the Alaskan National Guard headed up by pilot Colonel Scott Boyer (Dermot Mulroney, The Grey), the national news outlets, and Kelly Meyers (Vinessa Shaw, 3:10 to Yuma) from the office of the President of the United States under Ronald Reagan. The three whales, affectionately names Fred, Wilma and Bam-Bam, become center spotlight for both the small town of Barrow and for the nation.

At the top of the world, where everything from avocados and nacho chips for the Mexican restaurant to batteries for a personal Walkman have to be imported hundreds of miles, this true tale set in the town of Barrow, Alaska in October of 1988, is more than just a story about the three trapped grey whales. At the beginning of the end of the Cold War era (no pun intended), as the situation in the small town becomes a sensationalized national media event and all eyes remained glued to their televisions, the Reagan administration is portrayed as using the event to reverse their public image concerning the environment, agonizing over the decision whether to let a Soviet icebreaker come in to break the near-impenetrable pressure wall of ice that would be the last barrier to the whales' freedom to the open ocean. Not only does the government want to use the event to change their image. The head of an oil drilling corporation, J.W. McGraw, at odds with Green Peace's Rachel Kramer over the politics of giving the oil company additional rights to drill in the Alaska landscape, uses the grey whale story as a public relations opportunity to heighten the company's image in the area. Even the traditional way of life of the native Eskimo tribes living and dying in the remote Alaskan wilderness, mostly cut off and isolated from the rest of the world, is touched on as the world starts looking at the whale situation calls into question their traditions concerning whale hunting for food and ongoing survival.

With all of the complexities of the above said, Big Miracle is still a heart-warming, emotional and funny film set in the wintry wonderland of the Great White North. With all of the politics and differing of opinions converging upon this singular event, director Kwapis keeps the film light enough to avoid soap boxing about any single view or position. Oil companies, natives, activists, the government, and the media all are portrayed and given equal time as they come together to save the majestic mammal leviathans, whatever their motivations. There are enough quirks to make you chuckle, just ask a frozen eyelid. In addition, there is enough emotion to make you tear up. When Rachel makes a pleading interview with ex-boyfriend Adam behind the camera, Adam and the audience are taken to a tear by her words. And the plight of the whale family touches the heart on more than one level.

Adding to the situation is the dynamic between several of the characters. Adam and Rachel have a cordial but hurt relationship. Adam takes a shine to cub Los Angeles reporter Jill Jerard (Kristen Bell, Scream 4) looking for her big break. Greenpeace's Rachel and oil company CEO McGraw stalk each other about their intentions to the other. Colonel Boyer and White Houser Kelly have a differing of opinions about politics. And the natives of the white landscape fight to keep their way of life in the midst of a country and a world looking at them like they are in a fishbowl.

It would be rare if you were not affected by the tale of these trapped whales and the extraordinary efforts that people of all walks of life undertake to come to their aid. The peril of the whales is something that we as a people can relate to - their fear, their devotion to family, their relentless spirit. As with most of the characters in the film, you will be moved.

WORTH: Matinee or DVD

1 comment:

  1. After reading the book about the stranded whale rescue written by Tom Rose, of which the movie is based, I compared the real people's names that were involved with the rescue to the character names from Universal.

    Universal created new names for all the top people involved in the rescue. The Greenpeace woman's name was really Cindy Lowery, and is played by Drew Barrymore as Racheal Kramer. The real governor's name was Steve Cowper and is played by Steven Root as Governor Haskell. The real guy’s name who shot the video in Barrow was the TV Studio Manager of the North Slope Borough Oran Caudle and is played by John Krasinski as Adam Carlson. The oil company guy was Bill Allen of VECO and is played by Ted Danson as J. W. McGraw. And so on and so on...