Many things are going on in “Big Miracle.” Animals are in peril. Ways of life are threatened. The environment is at risk. Media are swooping in. And a relationship may or may not be rekindled.
As with movies like “Apollo 13” and “Titanic,” you know pretty much how things will turn out. It’s the telling of this real-life story (with some fictionalized aspects added in to make it more dramatic) that gets you to the resolution in an entertaining way.
This is an excellent family film. No sex, violence, nudity or profanity. Take the kids. Take Grandma.
The crisis occurs in October, 1988, when early cold weather freezes the surface of ocean waters near the northern tip of Alaska, trapping three whales who need to surface often for oxygen. The whales need to get to open water to begin their annual migration to Baja.
Help comes from many sources: the native Eskimos (who initially consider harvesting the whales), Greenpeace (Drew Barrymore plays an activist), Big Oil (Ted Danson is the oil mogul), the military (Dermot Mulroney is a National Guard commander), the USSR (a Soviet naval vessel chips in) and the media (John Krasinski is the TV news reporter who breaks the story which soon gets national attention). You can read my blog post about the Public Relations lessons this movie offers on my PR blog: “Big Miracle” Movie Has Useful PR Lessons
The talented cast also includes character actors Stephen Root, John Michael Higgins and Tim Blake Nelson—if you don’t know their names, you know their faces. Ahmaogak Sweeney makes a nice movie debut as Nathan, an Eskimo youngster.
The underwater shots of the whales are spectacular. The archival video of network news anchors Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather reminds us that this was a real event.
“Big Miracle” is entertaining and will make you feel good. One more thing: the depiction of extreme cold in “Big Miracle” will make you appreciate our current mild winter weather even more.