Oceans: James Bond Gets Cuddly With Nature

An almost miraculously photographed showcase of some of the seven seas’ least seen and most incredible specimens, Disney’s Oceans (a follow-up to last year’s Earth) lets its subjects speak for themselves. Timed to coincide with Earth Day, the film’s preservationist agenda is mostly implicit in its wonder at these strangest of nature’s people: The blanket octopus, mantis shrimp, and a host of protoplasmic jellyfish and barge-like whales turn their crazy-colored eyes and corrugated bellies to the camera and the message is received. The script is not quite as eloquent: Not even Pierce Brosnan’s hushed intonation can redeem space-filling non sequiturs like, “Merely knowing these creatures exist isn’t enough to tell the stories of their lives.” Taking us from the reefs of Australia to South Africa’s shark-infested coves and Alaska’s orca feeding grounds, Oceans is a jaw-dropper as a visual travelogue—even its anthropomorphic indulgences (an ocean floor is turned into a rough neighborhood, complete with trespassers and shy weirdos) are winning. Though there is a brief foray into pollution and destructive fishing, Oceans ends with hope: Humans can’t be all bad—after all, we made high-definition cameras and learned to breathe underwater not to kill but to get closer to our fellow creatures.