Planet Ocean (review)

Planet Ocean image 1.

Few films can make you feel as gloriously guilty as Planet Ocean (2012) does. It does this without really suggesting any single action one person can take to affect the core topics on which it preaches. Here is a documentary about the whole world – as its self-descriptive title suggests – and for it to be as much of a resounding success as it wants to be, it needs all of the humans living on it to watch closely and take notice. The fact that it presents its message so well means that individually, at least, we’re more than willing to listen.

Visually, Planet Ocean matches the global scale of its aims with ease. Large portions of the movie are spent underwater with a team of skilled cinematographers, who show beautiful coral reefs, and ocean depths where fascinating creatures of various shapes provide their own colourful light to an otherwise pitch black environment. Meanwhile a somewhat hypnotic voiceover provided by American actor Josh Duhamel guides us through this memorable journey, helping to inform the audience – if we needed any further informing – on the beauty of our planet.

It all feels like it’s building up to something big, and rest assured that it is. Upon presenting us with the best parts of our planet, the film then moves on to its worst component: humanity. Our increasing industrialisation and over-zealous nature in the open water fishing business have led to numerous species of fish becoming extinct, and is harming the ecosystems for existing ones. Should we keep going at this rate, then the very beauty that Planet Ocean spends its first half glorifying will soon be permanently lost. And the films message is clear: this would be a real shame.

Initially this synopsis can sound melodramatic, but it is so well presented that you really buy into the concept – and so you should. It is healthy, after all, that our pride should be hurt from time to time. Planet Ocean sets out to do this, showing our planet from a perspective that makes our technological achievements as a species simply pale in comparison.

Giving with one hand and swiftly taking away with the other, the film isn’t asking to be your friend. I get the feeling that it wouldn’t even aim for a good review. It only wants to spread the word about our dying environment and potentially our own resultant downfall. If this movie was to be found in the aftermath of such catastrophe, then we could hardly ask for a better record of at least some kind of conscience governing our ethical conduct.

9 / 10.

Graeme Stevenson

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