English Title: Big Miracle / Everybody Loves Whales.
Production: USA / UK, 2012.
Release Dates: 03.02.2012 (USA).
Russian Distributor: UPI (02.02.2012).
Genres: Drama / Melodrama.
Director: Ken Kwapis.
Starring: Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Kristen Bell, Dermot Mulroney.
Running Time: 123 minutes.
With the power of the world
On February 3, 2012 the new Melodrama opens worldwide in theaters entitled Big Miracle, review of it below will tell you, how three gray Whales were saved from death by a society uniting its efforts.
It is somewhat easier to film movies based on real events than all the others. Although there is already a foundation available, which provoked notable public interest to a certain extent, the responsibility for making a big screen adaptation is also significantly high. The writers always have to decide, whether or not they should introduce new characters to improve the original story or just copy the existing ones, rework them in this way or another in exchange sacrificing some authenticity. However, for a film format the inclusion of any animals often serve as an additional advantage, when trying to make a touching movie for the audence.
The new Big Miracle (2012) film formerly known as Everybody Loves Whales has come a long way till the release. Thus, the original storyline for it was written by a duo consisting of Jack Amiel and Michael Begler, who created the script for Raising Helen (2004). They described a real international event aimed at saving a family of whales from an ice trap in Alaska in 1988. To free them ordinary citizens, military representatives, tycoons, politicans, civilians and even one Russian Icebreaker vessel trying to solve one common problem in spite of any geopolitcal tensions existing at that time between the USSR and the United States.
Actually, this event is also known as Operation Breakthrough undertaken in 1988. Based on it, later on the author Tom Rose wrote a book featuring one very long title – Freeing the Whales: How the Media Created the World’s Greatest Non-Event (1989). In 2009, the film rights for this story was acquired by the Warner Bros. studio. Later on the script traveled to Universal Pictures, which invited its British long-time production partner company named Working Title Films. With its help another recent release of the distributor was created known as Contraband (2012), which we have recently reviewed.
Big Miracle was also co-produced by Anonymous Content, a company founded by Steve Golin some years ago. It became famous soon for making commericals for leading businesses all around the world. Though the English title of the film got changed, the Russian one stayed the same. Ken Kwapis was chosen to direct, and he has been known for several comedies, including License to Wed (2007) and He’s Just Not That Into You (2009) film stories.
For a common cause
Marine mammals in trouble
For quite a long time Ken Kwapis has been working with Rom-Coms starting from a story of He Said, She Said (1991), where, incidentally, he met his future wife – Marisa Silver, who was working on the set as a Co-director. In turn, John Krasinski performed a major role in the new Big Miracle movie, though he has already established himself as an actor, director and writer. He made a VO for Sir Lancelot in Shrek the Third (2007) and also had a chance to work with Ken several times, for example, with a License to Wed motion picture.
Amiel and Begler has been hatching the idea of such a film since 1991, although got actively engaged in its research only 10 years later, trying to include as many real characters into the story as possible to portray all those taking the share of actions that happened in 1988. One of the main roles for this movie was given to Drew Barrymore, and the actress has even agreed to temporarily postpone her directorial debut release, which was a comedy featuring some dramatic passages and named Whip It (2009). Together with John Krasinski at that time she had just finished shooting the He’s Just Not That Into You film and immediately switched to this new project.
The Big Miracle events begin at Point Barrow, Alaska. The family of two adult gray whales and their baby swam into the dangerous waters. The deteriorating weather conditions led to the formation of an ice trap blocking the mammals’ escape. So they are constantly trying to break the ice with their heads, but with no luck. A small report about their suffering comes from a local journalist Adam Carlson played by John Krasinski and then leads to some truly large-scale consequences.
Initially starting with getting media attention, it gives Adam the chance to meet his idol – a young blonde journalist named Jill Gerard performed by Kristen Bell. She volunteers to come to Alaska to provide some coverage to the newspaper she works for. Soon the word also reaches Adam’s ex-girlfriend – Rachel Kramer, a character by Drew Barrymore. Her heroine is ready for anything to protect the rights of animals, what includes exposing the officials and the wealthy tycoons, who are generally not concerned much about the ecological threats.
Drew Barrymore is rather convincing, when showing such a personality here in the Big Miracle film. Also it presents the synergy effect in action, when a fruitful cooperation of all the partners bring the long-waited and desired result, though it still requires all of them trying hard to achieve it.
The military, tycoons, politicians, journalists and civilians want the Whales freed
Soon enough the narrative of the Big Miracle movie gets dozens of new characters. Though there are leading ones, of course, they still become parts of a single chain needed to free the whales. The latter ones got the names from humans known as Fred, Wilma and Bam Bam to remind you about The Flinstones, perhaps. Some social and political contradictions also come into play.
For example, the tribal whalers community in Barrow has to decide, what to do with the uprising internal conflict, since their lifestyle includes hunting those, who are now suffering inside the icy trap. This short separate story also features the 11-year old boy Nathan, which along some others was recruited to the cast from the local populace for additional authenticity. He is played by Ahmaogak Sweeney. Even two provincial inventors soon arrive to the scene with their technology wonder being able to quickly melt ice, but don’t expect them to look much as their real-life prototypes did.
The economical and political sides on this stage of Big Miracle are presented by an oil tycoon J.W. McGraw played by Ted Danson, and the indiffirent Governor Haskell performed by Stephen Root soon forced to aid the mission. There is another confident lady in the team unveiling the employee of the U.S. Congress Committee named Bonni Mersinger, a real participant of the true story delivered by Vinessa Shaw.
Apart from the back of the American president, who gets interested in this incident too, here you will also see Dermot Mulroney serving as a military commander or Colonel Scott Boyer. You could recently meet him in The Grey (2012) thriller. Here he is leading a helicopters’ squad challenged to tow one barge closer to the target.
The powerful Russian Icebreaker vessel just as in the real history also plays its part in the Big Miracle film. The ship is commanded by the captain named Dimitri embodying a native of the former USSR and a triumphant of the Berlin International Film Festival. The actor Mark Ivanir handling this character in his free time enjoys doings VOs for video games ranging fromt the Call of Duty (2003-2011) series to a more recent Action title – Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (2011).
You will not see any large-scale special effects here, though it is possible to get the whole picture of the events that happened in 1988 and also learn, what the future held for its most contributing participants. There is an additional love triangle formed by Adam, Rachel and Gerard, which gets resolved too. The nice music of the official soundtrack was written by the American composer - Cliff Eidelman. This maestro has been making music tracks for nearly twenty years. His track record includes such films as Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), Free Willy 3: The Rescue (1997), by the way, telling about an orca in distress, as well as the above-mentioned comedy – He’s Just Not That Into You.
At times the Big Miracle movie is a touching Melodrama that you could invite your loved ones to watch together to get some bonus cuddles and kisses in the process. There is some comedy flavour as well, though it never overshadows the main message, which is alternatively depicting some problems of the American society relevant to the period of the late 1980s. By the way, after the Operation Breakthrough some scientists criticized the whole mission requiring the U.S. government to spend around 1 mln. USD to save the Whales. Probably, in the past they couldn’t guess that just this one big screen adaptation of the story would cost nearly 30 mln. USD for its Producers.
Big Miracle Trailer
Movie Score by GameScope:
7.5 / 10