NOTE: Wonders of the Sea is currently being screened in 3D across Canada, but this review reflects the 2D version of the film.
Wonders of the Sea has everything that you would get out of an uninterrupted computer screensaver of the ocean floor: opulent underwater visuals of fish and undefinable critters, and crossover transitions that meld everything together. The screensaver is better, however, because it’s quiet. Wonders of the Sea is informative, but there are too many narrators working against it.
Viewers receive the honour of traveling with co-director Jean-Michel Cousteau – son of renowned explorer Jacques Cousteau – along with his children Céline and Fabien as they dive into various bodies of water to showcase rare underwater life. Using cutting-edge technology and 4K cameras while taking pointers from DisneyNature’s early work, Wonders of the Sea allows its breathtakingly beautiful, crisp footage to speak for itself. However, as it lifts more influences from DisneyNature’s doctored narratives (Chimpanzee, Bears, Born in China), the documentary starts to lose credibility when the narration gets sillier and busier, suppressing the footage under the weight of experts stepping on each other to lead the film.
One of these eager captains is actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who’s narration has the presence of a gratuitous deal made between the celebrity and the filmmakers. Also serving as a producer on the film, Schwarzenegger sours the film right from the start with an unnecessary testimonial about why he wanted to be involved with the making of this documentary. Just like his audible contribution, it’s random and redundant. A lame Terminator reference towards the end is straight-up awkward.
I know the Cousteaus mean well, but they’re incessant distractions make Wonders of the Sea a film best viewed at home wth the mute button on standby.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie