The Many Motivations Behind Saving a Whale
Big Miracle is a film about whales — realistic whales that don’t do tricks to get shrimp treats or make impossible jumps over rocks and adorable children for their freedom. This film focuses on three whales trapped underneath Alaskan ice, resulting in a group of journalists, environmentalists, Eskimos, and governments coming together to save the large mammals from their watery graves. Though many films today claim to be based off of true events, this one actually is. Inspired by the 1988 Operation Breakthrough that became an international media frenzy, this film becomes even more realistic when the makers included actual news footage and audio recordings with a few minor updates Forest Gump style. It’s fun, and effective.
Despite this movie focusing on the depressing topic of dying whales, it maintains a lighthearted atmosphere throughout its entire running time. Featuring a large cast of comedic actors such as John Krasinski (The Office), Ted Danson (Cheers), Stephen Root (News Radio), and Rob Riggle (Saturday Night Live), the film stays amusing and enjoyable. Krasinski plays the lovable nice guy, the same as Jim from The Office, however, his constant supply of one-liner banter and smirks are equally as pleasant in the barren Alaskan environment. All of the characters have their own interesting quirks and stand out from one other — there is no weak acting link.
Many of the characters have mixed motivations regarding the whales. Journalists want to cover the story so they can be famous, oil executives want to be involved so they can get some positive public relations, presidents want to cover up mistakes and be reelected — few people start the story actually wanting to save the animals. Although many of the characters have selfish intentions, the film remains dramatic without an obvious antagonist. Yes, there’s no evil whale killer laughing maniacally every other scene while twisting his handlebar mustache — this is very refreshing. Instead of beating the audience over the head with a This-Is-The-Bad-Guy hammer, many of the characters have a mix of positive and negative attributes within them. Modern social commentary is also scattered throughout the movie such as unsafe drinking water, mercury in fish, excessive oil drilling, and the media’s focus on puff pieces about animals when there are much more pressing issues at hand — it might fly by in a second, but it’s there. These realistic elements add to the film’s power.
Vivid music makes the emotional whale struggle seem all that much more compelling. Audiences are bound to find themselves in a pre-weep state multiple times during the uplifting moments that fill the entire film. However, for those able to take a step back, the film cannot escape the fact that it revolves around submerged whales poking their heads out of holes. The drama comes from humans flying in helicopters to the whales, running to the whales, or steering boats toward the whales — some of these scenes seem to be thrown in simply to add more action to a situation that is not inherently all that spectacular. Those issues, along with an unnecessary cameo by Sarah Palin, are minor grievances however. Big Miracle is a solid film and worth your time.
Matt the Movie Analyst’s final verdict: 7/10