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and Alastair Fothergill
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Nature is brutal. So is sitting through nature, as Deep Blue quickly teaches. This documentary of underwater life, co-produced by the BBC in conjunction with its Blue Planet series, contains impressive footage that shows beautifully on the big screen. There’s something genuinely awe-inspiring about seeing, among other things, a killer whale rendered in actual killer-whale size. Yet the imposing images prove no match for the film’s relentlessly languid pace and sparse narration, which end up lulling you into a stupor as wide and deep as the sea itself. Directors Andy Byatt and Alastair Fothergill skip across oceans and continents to painstakingly piece together images of sea life both beautiful and deadly (though, annoyingly, they never tell you exactly where you are or, often, even what you’re looking at). Deep Blue documents a broad array of sea creatures, from ice-inhabiting penguins and polar bears to warm-water sharks and miniature crabs, but it rarely follows a single species long enough to connect you to any particular story. And it’s not for lack of time. There are (what feel like) vast stretches when all you see is a jellyfish undulating or a tropical fish alternating its colors. Which is certainly pretty for a little while but soon feels about as exciting as, well, a jellyfish undulating or a tropical fish alternating its colors. The film’s numbing effect is exacerbated by Pierce Brosnan’s somnambulant narration, which—no matter what he’s saying—ends up sounding like “You are getting sleepy….You are getting very, very sleepy.” And then, just as you’re settling into a nice little snooze, George Fenton’s histrionic score suddenly jars you awake with all the subtlety of an alarm clock: Time to see an orca toss a sea lion into the air! Impressive, indeed, but as 007 himself would say, you’re shaken, not stirred.