The ocean is presented as a work of art. It contains 97% of the planet’s water supply (one of several helpful facts offered alongside the narration). “To really know the ocean, you have to live it.” The Galapagos Islands offer a vision of the evolution of the iguana. The narrators point out it is symbolic of adaptation that became necessitated during ever shifting oceanic conditions. The ocean can sustain life fathoms deep in the most frigid conditions imaginable. Horseshoe crabs in the presence of bacteria form gel-like protective blood barriers to prevent infection. Bacteria trigger this survival mechanism. Pharmaceutical companies utilize this for testing medications. While we have discovered new galaxies in space, the makers of Oceans are more intrigued by the “galaxies” in our oceans. “The larvae of a sea urchin is like an asteroid” is a brilliant analogy offered by the directors. The cameramen were instructed to shoot “expressive footage” of the oceans. Apparently, every ocean contains jelly fish. The images of California jellyfish remind me of the monstrous aliens from H.G. Wells’ A War of the Worlds. When jellyfish expand they look like nuclear detonations. The magnified images are a sight to behold.
The directors suggest they sought to deliver a whirlwind of emotions: tenderness, fear, love, etc. They suggest this nature film resembles an action movie. Even the effervescing water droplets are stunning. The cameramen have captured sea life unlike anything I have ever seen. Species that reproduce hastily are often found at the bottom of the food chain. Mobula rays possess such agility they are like the ballerinas of our oceans. The blanket octopus looks like satin rouge “rippling” like “silk scarves”. The narrators are quick to point out the impact of climate change and human pollution on ocean life. The film of the fish no matter how copious their population or grouping allows us to focus on thousands or one individual fish with maximum resolution. Fish swirling can resemble a tornado.
Sea lions love the sun on pristine beaches whereas seals prefer the cold. Apparently they found Moby Dick, or a reasonable replica! Imagine how Herman Melville would feel, or Jules Verne for that matter, viewing this masterpiece under the sea. Humpback whales move so gracefully they do not disturb the sand beneath their massive bodies, they truly look like they belong in the ocean. This is a prime example of how the film crew presents us with the journey of a species in its natural beauty and essence. The whale exerts such a force during its jump, it splashes in such a way as to look like a king of the ocean. Light filters through to the humpback making their skin look like it is scaled with gemstones. The nurturing of babies is shown as well.
The crabs and miniature yellow-tailed fish shown are exemplary of how modern technology can bring us to previous uncharted territories. The coral reefs house sea urchins that resemble pineapples blended with porcupines! A conch is shown peering around to determine its safety. Fish also select hiding places. Other fish possess suction cups to maintain their stability. The narrators are quick to mention they have applied no underwater light. We are able to watch fish as they behave under moonlight, completely naturally, in the ocean’s natural state. One lobster’s eyes look like those of Cookie Monster. Mantis shrimp seem to have screened buttons for eyes. The sounds of a lobster in combat with a crab were recorded. I fought the lobster and the lobster won! Stabilizing the cameras to film all of these scenes must have taken unbelievable expertise and preparation.
Whales hunt together. Observing their groups can be inimical for documentarians. Many consume herring while singing to frighten their pray. They feed together and form “miniature islands” as they conglomerate. The Antarctic seal reigns supreme. Penguins moving through fissures in the glacial ice are eye-popping. These are “flightless birds”. They are no less graceful than airborne birds. Even the Coca Cola polar bear makes a cameo. For my money, narwhales are the stuff of fairy tales, or the “unicorns of the sea”. Their vocalizations are fascinating. Underneath it all is a “fierce struggle for survival”. Evolution and survival are not always kind.
Oceans is simply extraordinary. Ocean life is just as sophisticated and probably is more nuanced and intricate than human life is here on the surface. Oceans aspires to offer something never before see on film and it does so with grace and master storytelling. Even the waves look like exploding glaciers. Many species presented were land dwelling before moving back to the oceans. The divers look so natural in oceanic forests! Sea turtles while eating make quite a mess in dispersing the sand. Fish travel together, apart, work in tandem, and they all share in a biodiverse environment that is necessary for their survival and continued evolution. Turtles are shown being born when they climb to the water in their full vulnerability. Many are eaten by frigate birds. Predators look for them as easy prey. Nothing is hidden, everything is shown as is. Even turtle sex is shown, teenage mutant ninja porn stars, penis in a half shell! Cleaner shrimp cleanse the reefs. They narrators call it a car wash! Overall there is something about Oceans that will entertain anyone and everyone. Our shared planetary history may prove far more revealing than we have previously thought. Disney has outdone itself.
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