Movie Review: Big Miracle (2012)

Posted: September 10, 2012 in Drama


While working on human interest stories in Barrow, Alaska in 1988, reporter Adam Carlson (John Krasinski) discovers three whales trapped below the Arctic ice.  Adam’s ex girlfriend, Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore) is a member of Greenpeace, and son she wants to help Adam free the whales.  Soon, the story goes national.  The Innupiat, the local Eskimo tribe in Barrow want to hunt the whales, but after realizing that the weight of public opinion would be against them, they decide to help free the whales.  Adam and Rachel realize that the only way to get the whales free is to get an ice cutting barge from an oil company.  The CEO of the oil company, JW McGraw (Ted Danson) realizes that it would be good public relations to lend the barge to the rescue team.  Similarly, officials from the Reagan administration feel that it would be good public relations to help the National Guard with the rescue.  As the National Guard helicopters started to tow the ice breaking barge to Barrow, the barge gets irretrievably stuck in the ice.  The only other way to rescue the whales is a Soviet ice breaking ship in the area?  Would the Reagan administration risk involving the Soviets while the Cold War was still going on?

To my surprise, this is quite a good little family movie.  The key is that it’s not just a kids movie.  There is a kid in it, and he’s quite cute, but there’s a whole bunch of other interesting relationships between the adults here.  There’s a love triangle between Adam, Rachel, and another reporter, there’s the evil oil industry representative, who really comes to care for the whales at the end.  And there’s the whole political intrigue of dealing with the Soviets, with a President who specialized in anti-Soviet rhetoric.  That’s a lot to pack into a family film, and that’s what makes this movie a cut above a movie like Free Willy, or Dolphin Tale.  The acting is also good in this film.  John Krazinski is always likable, and he continues to be so in this film.  Drew Barrymore is annoying, but she’s supposed to be, she’s a member of Greenpeace.  There’s also a very good performance by Ted Danson, who really humanizes a character who’s supposed to be a heavy in this film.  The young eskimo kid is smart, and funny without being obnoxious.  That is a tough thing to do in a movie today. The young actor’s name is Ahmaogak Sweeney.  He is well worth seeing, as is the movie, which is better than the movie I just reviewed, War Horse. What I like most about this movie is that it’s a movie that stresses mutual cooperation to achieve a common goal.  With today’s politics filled with such division, it was refreshing to see politicians working together with private sector corporations, the military, along with an environmental group.

Big Miracle.  A whale of a good film.


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