PG Cooper: Big Miracle Review

Posted: June 27, 2012 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

Release date: February 3rd, 2012

Running time: 1 hour and 46 minutes

Written by: Jack Amiel and Michael Begler

Based on: The book “Freeing the Whales” by Tom Rose

Directed by: Ken Kwapis

Starring: Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, and Ted Danson

Adam Carlson (John Krasinski) is a reporter living temporarily in Alaska for work. He’s been working in Alaska for months and finds himself at the end of his tenure. But the week he’s supposed to leave, Adam finds a brand new story; a group of three whales are trapped under the ice. If they don’t get help soon, they’re going to die. Luckily, Adam’s ex-girlfriend Rachel (Drew Barrymore) is a wild-life nut who’s eager to help. But eventually things grow bigger, with the U.S. government, the National Guard, and big oil companies getting involved, all of them trying to save the whales.

Big Miracle is based on a true story, and I will say, the story of all these people coming to save these whales is pretty impressive, but that doesn’t mean it makes for an interesting movie. Is it warming to hear about people coming together to save animals? Sure, but the story has very little conflict. Most of the people you’d expect to block the protagonists, such as the government and oil companies, agree to help the whales within the first third of the film. This means the only real antagonists in the film are nature and time. Now, nature and time can be threatening obstacles, as proven by this year’s incredibly tense The Grey. But while The Grey was tense and exciting, Big Miracle is slow and boring. This is in part because Ken Kwapis is not nearly as talented as Joe Carnahan, but also because the stakes aren’t as high in Big Miracle. I realize that makes me sound cruel, since I’m admitting I didn’t care what happened to the whales, but I didn’t. The reason is because the film treats them more like objects then real creatures. The film doesn’t actually spend a lot of time with the whales. They are discussed a lot, but the film rarely takes time to view them as creatures and is instead content to treat them like objects.

Given the lack of time the film spends with the whales, most of the film focuses on the humans trying to free them, and what boring humans they are. One of the ways I test a movie character is by asking if they would have interesting lives beyond the plot of the film their in. This definitely isn’t the case here. None of these characters have any real depth or personality. It’s frustrating seeing talented actors like John Krasinski and Stephen Root being given so little to do. I don’t blame these actors mind you, given how little they’re given to work with. I do have to single out Drew Barrymore negatively though. She plays the environmental activist Rachel and she’s just irritating throughout. Every scene looks like she’s about to cry and was just annoying to deal with. Not to mention she and Krasinski are suppose to have sparks between them, yet the two have no chemistry together.

Was there anything I liked in the film? Kind of. I liked that it was relatively short, it still felt long and boring mind you, but it could have been worse. I feel that John Krasinski has a sort of natural charisma that comes out even when he’s got nothing to work with. There was also an interesting subplot about the natives and their hunting traditions. Granted, it was dropped almost as soon as it came up, which was frustrating, but at least I was invested in the film for a minute or two. Finally, I will say, my distaste for the film aside, it’s never offensively bad in the way that films like That’s My Boy or Larry Crowne are.

You could argue that my reasons for disliking the films stem from my general lack of interest in nature. While it’s true that I’m far from what you’d call a “tree hugger”, I don’t think it’s fair for the movie to get a pass that way. My distaste for the film has less to do with the basic subject matter, and more to do with the fact that Big Miracle is a poorly made film on every level. It may seem harsh to hate on a film so strongly despite it being relatively harmless, but that doesn’t change the fact that Big Miracle doesn’t offer anything.  Even this year’s worst films gave me something back.

Rating: F


On a lighter note, here’s George Carlin on nature: 

  1. LOL. I was calling this movie “Big Dorksicle”. It was god awful tripe.

    You’re right, the part about the indians and their hunting traditions was the best part. I wish the movie had been about that instead of this. I gave it a D :(

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