Directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud (Winged Migration) offer up a lot of pretty pictures; what they don’t offer is something that feels like a movie. It certainly talks like a movie, with Pierce Brosnan providing soothing narration framed by the not-particularly-interesting question, “What is the ocean, anyway?”
But that’s not the same thing as providing a cohesive idea, and it generally doesn’t feel as though Oceans has any clear sense of purpose. The most obvious would be one of environmental consciousness, which would seem to be the implicit idea behind a film division that releases its movies on Earth Day. And while there’s a token attempt to rally conservation-mindedness, Oceans clearly pulls its punches.
There are certainly many memorable images, both cute and/or awe-inspiring, but the reality is that in an era of omnipresent basic-cable nature footage, a nature documentary needs to provide either technological innovation or simple storytelling to create an emotional connection to the animals. There’s none of the former here, and only sporadic success with the latter.
Oceans never seems to have the attention span to make its narrative moments stick. The editing rhythms feel all wrong, as though the film were put together by a kid dragging his parents from one aquarium exhibit to the next every 25 seconds.
Disney should understand the power of story better than this. The oceans might be massive, but by giving too few of its inhabitants a context, Oceans makes them seem surprisingly small. Grade: C