Big Miracle: A Review

Big Miracle is one of the movies that I’ve been most looking forward to see in 2012 mainly because it features one my favorite actresses Drew Barrymore and it revolves around animals — in this case a family of grey whales who have been trapped in the ice in Point Barrow, Alaska. The movie is made greater by the fact that it is based on a true story adapted from the book Freeing the Whales by Tom Rose about the valiant rescue of the adorable giant fishes who have been rendered helpless in the face of freezing temperatures and thickening ice walls.

The story begins when a small time television reporter from Anchorage Adam Carlson (John Krasinski), stumbles upon three grey whales trapped in the ice and feeds the story to his local cable network. When his his story is picked up from the wires by national television stations, interest in the whales grow, in particular, that of his ex-girlfriend and environmental activist Rachel Kramer (Barrymore) who uses all means necessary to get mileage for the story to pressure the government into helping Fred, Wilma and Bam Bam (the names chosen for the three whales) get out of their frozen prison and survive. But challenges continue to hamper the rescue attempts and the whale’s chances of surviving grow dire as every hour passes.

I have wanted to see this film since I saw its trailer being shown in the cinemas last year even though I’m not big on dramas. But the trailer alone made me cry and so did this heartwarming tale of unity in the face of adversity, of going above and beyond the call of duty, of setting aside pride to achieve a common goal and of course, how to care about a cause so greatly that one would go to any lengths just to make a difference, so I was thinking that if the trailer alone is able to accomplish all that, what more the entire movie?

I’m glad to say that I did not make a wrong choice being excited for this film. I think that the greatest strength of the film lies in its ability to touch people hearts. Audiences easily relate to the characters because they are real. The politician who wants to gain votes and popularity for the next election, his public relations team who scouts for stories that would increase his trust ratings, the dedicated public servant who gets roped into the fray because he has no choice, the businessmen who want to get good publicity,  people from a small town who are misunderstood by outsiders who do not know their culture, reporters who box each other out for a story and those who truly care about the lives of the whales without any agenda. The thing is, while things start out merely as a PR stunt for some, at the end of the day, this story was able to connect deeply to each person who was part of the rescue, and even to those who merely witnessed the feat through the big screen. Its all because the whales are mostly symbolic of all the good things that can bring people together, so much that they can forget what tears them apart. In the end, one would be amazed as to who would be willing to extend a hand to assist in a seemingly hopeless effort. The film is amazing, in my opinion, not only because of the excellent cast but because the story is able to illustrate the value of a united effort and at the same time pushes people to reflect on what they would personally do if they were faced with a similar situation, or any difficult situation, for that matter. It boggles the mind what countries could achieve by tearing down walls of division and bias — the whales could just be the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended), and millions of lives could be saved and uplifted.

Big Miracle is not going to garner any Oscars but it was a good movie that tells an excellent story very well. It enrages, it touches, it inspires and it gives people faith in the strength and kindness of their fellow man. And that, in my opinion, is the gift that this film gives its audience. People walk away with a sense of purpose, even for a few minutes, a few hours after seeing this movie. And that’s a good thing to come back to when one if feeling bleak and lost.

If one  is not interested in the underlying message that the film delivers, then seeing Sarah Palin when she was just starting out as a reporter in Anchorage, big hair and all, may well be plus to see the movie. By the way, I liked the song that they used in the trailer, too bad it was in no part of the actual movie.

10 films I can’t wait to see in 2012

2011 was a great year in films. I actually have a couple of movies I still haven’t watched, truth be told. But 2012 promises to be another year filled with amazing theatrical offerings (a lot of remastered blockbusters such as Titanic, Phantom Menace, Finding Nemo), some remakes, a few risky takes on popular children’s fairy tales (Snow White and the Huntsman, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunter, Jack the Giant Killer), and different presentations of historical figures (J. Edgar, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) — all a fine indication that the film industry is thriving and brimming with ideas to entertain and enthrall its audience.

1. The Hunger Games: In a dystopian society where all the power is concentrated in the Capitol, tributes from Panem’s 12 districts are forced to participate in the annual Hunger Games, enclosed in a special arena where only one victor could emerge alive. District 12 tributes Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) try to defy the odds to survive the sadistic game of death while holding on to their last vestiges of themself . Based on the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (one of my favorite series), the movie is bound to be rife in action, suspense, romance and politics.  Check out the trailer here.

2. We Bought a Zoo:A single parent (Matt Damon) seeking to make a fresh start for his family, buys a property and all the wildlife that goes with it. I’m a sucker for inspirational stories involving animals and the great acting by the humans is but a huge huge bonus. I was hooked the moment I watched the trailer.

3.Brave: Walt Disney introduces a new heroine, Princess Merida, who seeks to change her path, prove her worth and bring honor to her family despite restrictions brought on by male dominated tradition. Think Mulan, but Irish. Watch this trailer and marvel at the sense of adventure.

4. Snow White and the Huntsman: After the success of their movies in 2011, Kristen Stewart (Twilight), and Chris Hemsworth (Thor) star in this modern take on the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Only, take the dwarves out of the equation and replace the prince with a ruggedly handsome huntsman, who helps the princess stage a revolt a la Robin Hood against the evil queen (Charlize Theron). Click here to view the trailer.

5. Coriolanus: A man who leads his country to victory is betrayed by the people whom he served wholeheartedly. Ousted and driven from his home, he joins forces with the enemy to seek vengeance against those who have wronged him. Ralph Fiennes takes on the title role and the director’s seat for this film while Gerard Butler plays his nemesis and eventual ally Tullus Aufidius. Anything that brings together King Leonidas (300) and Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter) gets my seal of approval. Check out this clip from the movie.

6. Chronicle: Three teenagers discover that they have uncanny superhuman powers and decide to record their exploits on film. Things turn sour when one of them begins to abuse his gifts. Shot documentary style like Cloverfield, Chronicle promises to be just as exciting and heart pounding 2008 sleeper hit.

7. The Expendables 2: I’m not a great fan of sequels but with the rep that the first film managed to achieve, I’m all for a new adventure with Sly Stallone and his motley crew of action superstars. The sequel deals with a seemingly new job that Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) offers the crew which goes awry after one of the men is killed in action (wonder who that will be? My guess is Lundgren). This trailer doesn’t give out much but I have faith in the franchise’s awesomeness.

8. The Avengers:  Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) pools together earth’s greatest superheroes to form a team that can protect the planet against evil that mankind cannot manage to defeat on its own. After the success of Marvel releases in previous years, it would be interesting how TV SciFi director and series creator Joss Whedon manages his all star cast of guy’s guys especially when he is more used to dealing with female heroines (Buffy, Angel, Serenity and Dollhouse). For a short dose of superhero fix, click here.

9. Big Miracle: Have I told you how much of a sucker I am for movies with animals? Well, Big Miracle is a story about three giant whales trapped in blocks of ice in Alaska and how a feature story reporter (John Krasinski) and his ex-girlfriend, a Greenpeace volunteer (Drew Barrymore) rally an entire state to save them. The trailer alone had me tearing up.

10. The Dark Knight Rises: In Christopher Nolan’s concluding chapter in the Dark Knight trilogy, a new villain called Bane terrorizes Gotham City and the origins of Selina Kyle (Catwoman) is unraveled. I’ve always been a fan of Nolan’s Batman franchise, despite its brooding approach to the mythos of Batman, one of the most popular DC characters out there. Check out this trailer to get a taste of what’s in store.

My original list was much much longer but these are the best in the bunch. Happy 2012 guys, and thanks for your constant support for my blog.