Disneynature’s Oceans is the second installment in a series of theatrical releases that explores the planet. (Earth released in 2009. Currently two other films are in the production process, African Cats: Kingdom of Courage and Chimpanzee.) Unlike Earth, which followed three animal families during the course of one year, this documentary introduces a whole boatload of aquatic life including some very unusual and rare specimens.
Set to a beautiful score and narrated by actor Pierce Brosnan, the movie takes viewers underwater where they meet, among other things, a marine iguana, several types of sharks and a myriad of smaller fish that tag along with a big buddy as a kind of protection insurance. The script explores other self-preservation techniques employed by sea creatures—fading into the ocean floor, imitating rocks or inhabiting abandoned shells. As well, the film portrays feeding and migration habits along with mothering practices.
Some of the more disturbing images for young viewers may include the depiction of birds diving down to catch and eat scores of newly hatched turtles as they race across the sand in hopes of reaching the ocean. Audiences will also see sharks dining on seals and other fish being eaten by porpoises and sea birds.
While the narration contains some information about this watery world, there are more questions left unanswered than not. Hopefully the DVD release of this movie will include an audio track that fills in more of the details about these sea animals and the creatures that rely on them for their existence—polar bears and birds to name a few.
Despite the increasing impact of pollution and other human interventions on the ocean, only a little time is spent showing animals swimming through garbage-filled waters. Later viewers see brief depictions of fish and other ocean dwellers caught in trolling nets and ropes. (One scene shows blood oozing through the water from an injured animal.) Even the effect of river runoff and the dumping of deadly chemicals don’t receive the amount of screen time they likely deserve.
Rather this production, for the most part, is merely a leisurely tour of some of the most pristine aquatic areas still found on Earth. Luckily downloadable educational activities and an educator guide will help make this film a useful media presentation for the classroom. In the meantime, audiences can sit back and enjoy an up close tour of the world that lies beneath the surging waves and languid waters of this planet’s Oceans.