Judging by the hype, you’d think this was an Arnold Schwarzenegger film. He is an executive producer and it is preceded by a short welcoming message in which he says he’s been an environmentalist even before he was a governor. But his narration comes only in small bits. It’s  interspersed around comments by the real stars: Jacques Cousteau’s son Jean-Michel and grandchildren Fabien and Celine. They’re carrying on his work of studying and advocating for the oceans which is more vital than ever as climate changes and acidification and plastics spread. The film concludes with a warning, as you’d expect, but brings us glorious pictures on the way.

Cousteau, who developed the scuba diving gear, showed us the seas in his films, the first of which won an Academy award, and the hundreds of which that played on his TV show. This film goes way beyond that. Thanks to new technology, we see underwater in 3D, Ultra-HD 4K, slow motion and very, very close up. You see the clown fish (as in the picture at the top), a Christmas tree worm emerging like a flower coming into bloom, the basket star which has no heart and no brain, the bright colors and exotic shapes of coral reefs, which by the way are animals, not stone.

The 3D camera takes us right into one creature’s mouth. There’s a squid mating frenzy, a sting ray rising out of the sand, an octopus that can change colors and much more. And later on, scenes of decline and calls for action. Some of the talk between Arnie and the Cousteaus is humdrum (they even get him to say “I’ll be back.”) but the message is strong and the sights are awesome. 

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