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A whale of a tale hits theaters

Can you believe the entire world once had its eyes on a trio of whales?

Based on both the book “Freeing the Whales” and the actual 1988 event, “Big Miracle” (directed by Ken Kwapis) tells the story of three whales trapped under an Alaskan sheet of ice. Discovered by reporter Adam Carlson (John Krasinski), the whales gradually captured the attention of environmentalists, native Inuits, oilmen, the general public and even President Ronald Reagan himself.

Refreshingly, “Big Miracle” does not try to achieve stardom. Attempting to look beyond the plot’s surface is futile, as the film does not lean toward any side or foster any hidden agenda. Rather, its humble goal is simply to present the various factions involved in the rescue. As the movie presents it, there is no short supply of disputes between the politicians and the animal-lovers, and each group seems to be approaching the situation with a different motive, but fortunately the end goal of all involved is to save the whales.

This movie’s humble nature, however, renders its biggest storytelling flaw all the more apparent: the absence of a good hook. Overeager to get right to the plot, it eliminates any sense of buildup. Rather than being allowed to experience for themselves the growing sense of curiosity and concern that characterized the original event, viewers are bombarded with the introductory material in a montage sequence and then dropped right into the plot. The whales themselves have almost no place in the film’s opening, so it is easy to feel indifferent to their plight.

Thankfully, these complaints only apply the first third of the movie. As the characters come together and the whales finally get some screen time, this new unity gives birth to a compelling suspense story. “Big Miracle” may fall prey to clichés and pacing issues, but its simplistic nature grants it a unique position among today’s flashier titles.

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