This BBC documentary finally makes its long-overdue American debut, and the timing couldn’t be worse. Deep-sea photographyr Oceanic floor explorationr Released last winter, James Cameron’s “Aliens of the Deep” covered almost the exact same terrain, and Cameron was armed to the teeth with 3-D Imax cinema to help his case for wonder at all things wet. “Deep Blue” isn’t as fortunate with screen dimensions, but it works, if only because it’s hard to deny the vast beauty and mysteries that lie in our abyssal oceans.
The American Miramax cut of the film is narrated by Pierce Brosnan, who lends the film a velvety tone that accentuates the richness of the visuals. Filmmakers Andy Byatt and Alastair Fothergill have supplied some incredible sights for Brosnan to narrate, spanning the globe in search of nature’s oddities and essentials. Though oddly not a large-format feature, the filmmakers do a remarkable job keeping the viewer involved with the struggles of the different species, and use their smaller scope to create intimacy in place of Imax bombast. The viewer holds tight as sea lions struggle to avoid becoming somebody else’s dinner (resulting in an incredible sight of a dead sea lion being tossed hundreds of feet in the air by a killer whale), they shiver with the Emperor Penguins as they huddle in the sub-zero temps, and witness whales and assorted undersea creatures feeding on a literal tornado of sardines. “Blue” also ventures deep into oceanic trenches to get an up close look at hydrothermal vents and the life they support. Also seen in Cameron’s “Aliens,” the majestic sight of a pitch-black world is worth a second look.
“Blue” takes a cue from the 2001 bird watching hit “Winged Migration” and just allows nature to be nature, without much explanation of what the viewer is looking at. This can be frustrating, especially when the creatures tend to get fantastic in design and behavior. The point of “Deep Blue” is to marvel at life and to provoke curiosity about the oceans, and the film is very successful at that. This is nothing the audience couldn’t get on the average Discovery Channel program, yet it does create a soothing, entertaining filmgoing experience.Rating: B