Official Big Miracle Thread

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  • PaulHJR
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    #53540

    Summary: Inspired by the 1988 true story, it tells the tale of an Alaskan small town news reporter and a Greenpeace volunteer who are joined by (still-rivals) American and Soviet naval forces to save a family of majestic gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle. 

    Cast: Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski,
    Dermot Mulroney, Kristen Bell, Ted Danson; directed by Ken Kwapis; produced by
    Eric Fellner, Liza Chasin, Michael Sugar, Steve Golin and Tim Bevan; executive producers Paul Green and Stuart Besser; screenplay by Jack
    Amiel and Michael Begler; based on the novel “Freeing the Whales”
    by Thomas Rose

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    babypook
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    #53542

    O man. Was it that long ago? Seems like yesterday to me….I like the words “inspired by”. Maybe it wont be as sad as it actually was.

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    PaulHJR
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    #53543

    Hollywood Reporter echoes the current 80% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes:

    The generically nondescript title
    aside, Big Miracle is an enjoyable, lively account of an Alaskan
    animal rescue story that touched the world.

    Using a broad, generous canvas to
    recount the events surrounding the 1988 plight of a family of gray
    whales who become ice-locked off the shores of Barrow, Alaska,
    director Ken Kwapis and screenwriters Jack Amiel and Michael Begler
    demonstrate an eye for playful period detail, but it’s the affable
    cast, headed by Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski, that really makes
    the picture so widely accessible.

    With its all ages appeal, the Universal
    release could see some buoyant box office along the lines of last
    fall’s Warner Bros.’ adventure, Dolphin Tale.

    Based on the novel Freeing the Whales
    by Thomas Rose, the film efficiently establishes its brisk tone and
    equally brisk Arctic Circle setting, where local TV news reporter
    Adam Carlson (Krasinski) covers the quality of the guacamole at the
    town’s only Mexican restaurant.  His dreams of making it into the bigger
    markets are realized when he stumbles across three whales trapped
    beneath the ice, with a single, ever-shrinking hole providing their
    only oxygen supply.

    Carlson’s footage of the whales’
    plight initially captures the attention of his ex-girlfriend,
    environmental activist Rachel Kramer (Barrymore), who quickly takes
    up the cause.  So does Tom Brokaw, who runs the story
    on his NBC Nightly News telecast, and all of a sudden everyone wants
    to be in the whale-saving business for very different, self-serving
    reasons.

    With its socio-political ramifications
    that travel far beyond the snow banks of Barrow, the story also
    attracts the attention of everybody from the Alaskan Native
    population to a pro-oil-drilling businessman (Ted Danson) to the
    Reagan White House, looking to position vp George H.W. Bush as a
    pro-environmental humanitarian and even the Glasnost-promoting
    Soviets.

    They’re all given the same
    even-handed treatment by Amiel and Begler’s script, and while
    character complexities tend not to run too deeply below the surface,
    there’s more than enough for Kwapis and his talented cast to
    utilize to their advantage.

    Both Barrymore and Krasinski are
    terrific and credible both in their respective lines of work and as
    still-involved former couple. Good, too are Danson; Dermot Mulroney
    as a steadfast National Guardsman in charge of transporting a
    gigantic hoverbarge in an ill-fated rescue mission; and Vinessa Shaw
    as persistent White House executive assistant Kelly Meyers.

    Also enjoyable are all those 1988
    touches, from the clunky Walkmans to Gordon Gekko references, while
    those real-life broadcasts by Brokaw, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and
    company have been nicely integrated into the dramatic recreations.

    On the subject of recreations, New
    Zealand-based special effects artists Justin Buckingham and Mike
    Latham do a sufficiently convincing job of bringing those California
    gray whales to life (they served a similar function on 2002’s Whale
    Rider); while veteran cinematographer John Bailey crisply captures
    all that still frosty terrain and steel blue sky. 

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    PaulHJR
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    #53544

    Roger Moore, Dallas Morning News:  *** out of 4:

    The title isn’t an exaggeration.
    Something like a big miracle occurred back in 1988 when the plight of
    a family of gray whales stranded under the Alaska ice captivated the
    world and forced oil men, environmentalists, native people, the
    Reagan administration and even the Soviets to team up on a rescue
    mission.

     

    And it’s no small miracle that the
    story of that nearly forgotten moment makes for a delightful family
    movie. Political cynicism, media opportunism, dogmatic native
    traditions, corporate greed and environmentalist stubbornness are
    each, in turn, dashed against this sunny confection.

     

    John Krasinski plays Adam, the very
    definition of a small-time TV reporter who hungers to hit the big
    time. Then he stumbles across three whales — parents and a baby —
    clinging to an air hole in the ice outside Point Barrow, Alaska.
    They’re miles from open ocean and aren’t expected to last more than a
    day or two. Adam’s “there’s a tragedy unfolding here in Barrow”
    story gets picked up by NBC because, as one wag cracks, “Brokaw’s
    a sucker for whale stories.”

     

    Next thing you know, every network is
    on the story. Alaskan Greenpeace activist Rachel (Drew Barrymore)
    starts shrieking. The tribal whaling council has to be shown how bad
    “harvesting” the whales will look to the world. Mr. Big Oil
    (Ted Danson) has to be conned into seeing the PR value in letting
    “some hippies use my (icebreaker) barge to save some whales.”

     

    All of this makes for a slight film of
    simple, obvious charms. But screenwriters Jack Amiel and Michael
    Begler get the little things right. Every character has a function.
    Barrymore and Danson flesh out the environment-versus-jobs debate.
    Kristen Bell, playing a drop-in reporter, represents the shallowness
    of big-time TV.

    The film wisely shows that the would-be
    villains have a human side and that the supposedly righteous – the
    natives and environmentalists – can be downright unpleasant.
    Barrymore’s Rachel is shrill and dismissive. Danson’s oilman has a
    soft streak. Sure, there are plenty of Hollywood touches, but a lot
    of this story is true. “Big Miracle” is a charming,
    feel-good movie that the whole family can enjoy. 

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