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Film Reviews Review: Wonders of the Sea 3D is gorgeous, but nearly drowns in its narrative

Wonders of the Sea 3D is an immersive diving experience within a film.

RICHARD MURPHY/3D Entertainment Films

Wonders of the Sea 3D

Directed by: Jean-Michel Cousteau, Jean-Jacques Mantello

Written by: Jean-Jacques Mantello, François Mantello, David Chocron

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Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Celine Cousteau, Fabien Cousteau

Classification: G; 83 minutes

rating

A combination of state-of-the-art cinematography and old-fashioned documentary storytelling, this gorgeous film is 3D visually, but frustratingly two-dimensional otherwise.

Schoolchildren will appreciate the strange-looking sea-water creatures and the deep-water immersion. Adult viewers might get the bends getting up too fast after film’s rather dull 83 minutes.

The film features descendants of old aqua lung himself, Jacques Cousteau. They share narration with Arnold Schwarzenegger, who should never be described as the Austrian-American Attenborough. Still, he can deliver a line. The various Cousteaus, with their stiff, cute banter, are less capable. There is, however, much eye-popping beauty here. Coral reefs are explained, the octopuses are out of this world and the Christmas tree worms are aptly named.

But while the man-made threat to the ocean’s ecobalance is presented, director Jean-Michel Cousteau only meekly clangs the climate-change alarm bells. At one point, Schwarzenegger grudgingly recites a Terminator catch phrase. He’ll be back, but will the disappearing sharks and reefs? No matter how many times this decidedly apolitical film tells us how resilient the ocean is, one wonders if the pollution, overfishing and acidification are irreversible.

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Wonders of the Sea 3D opens Friday.

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