At the beginning of the “Wonders of the Sea 3D,” a new documentary featuring underwater adventurers Jean Michel Cousteau and his children Celine and Fabien, narrator Arnold Schwarzenegger says the reason he signed on was because this “is an important film with an important message.” The message is actually twofold. First he cites the aesthetic, calling the doc a “declaration of love for the beauty of the ocean.” Later the movie’s secondary, but more serious message of how the future of humanity is inextricably connected to the health of the ocean.
From Fiji to the Bahamas, with a pit stop in California “Wonders of the Sea 3D” takes us to the final frontier. More people have walked on the moon than on the bottom of the deep ocean, and indeed many of the creatures we are introduced to look ripped from the pages of a sci fi comic book. From the familiar—like the octopus; “We may never get closer to alien intelligence than this,” says Jean Michel.—to more exotic undersea life like the bizarre Christmas Tree Worm and a flatworm that looks like it could be a multi-coloured scarf in a Fashion Week runway show, the images are striking and surreal. There’s even a fish who looks like Steve Buscemi.
The photography is beautiful, the 3D effective but as eye-catching as these images are they rarely provide a sense of scale. Life on the documented reefs reveals “nature’s masterful design” but it’s hard to tell if these creatures are ten feet tall or microscopic.
“Wonders of the Sea 3D” is aimed at kids whose imaginations may be sparked by the unusual watery beasts on display. The narration, courtesy of the Cousteau family and Schwarzenegger, is simple and direct, often with the feel of an educational classroom film. The narration may not be nearly as compelling as the images but the messages are memorable. “The ocean survives without us. We don’t survive without the ocean.”