Big Miracle

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 53 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 53
  2. Negative: 9 out of 53

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User Reviews

  1. Mar 13, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Dolphins are whales, small whales, cetaceans not in the humpback sense, but cetaceans nonetheless. As a result, this consanguinity makes The Cove worth denoting, since what it shares with Big Miracle, is the notion of western imperialism being inconvenienced on a foreign culture. Far from the Grand Guignol spectacle of the dolphin slaughter, however, which takes place annually in Taiji, a small Japanese town, infamous for its dependence on a psychotic fishing industry(in this case, western imperialism is a good thing), Big Miracle opens with a scene where we see Inuit Eskimos on a whale hunt, which otherwise wouldn't be disturbing in a context where the narration privileges the native. But this isn't The Fast Runner, the 2001 film that showed the Inuit culture on its own terms, a culture that, as just mentioned, includes whale hunting, as seen in the film's ethnographic approach. In an early sequence, detailing daily life, an Eskimo prepares the mammal flesh with a sharpened stone. But it's okay. The audience realizes that the harsh living conditions would bring about a need for these isolated people to eat whale meat, whereas Big Miracle saddles us with a dialectic relationship between industrial and non-industrial cultures, since Rachel, whose Greenpeace activism imposes her values over indigenous ones, lumps industry and sustenance together as being one and the same, thereby associating the Inuit people with the Japanese, even though survival, and not profit, is their motivation for the killings. The message being: conform with the mainstream view on whale hunting, or be vilified. She places a higher value on animals over people. But what are these Eskimos supposed to eat? Ice? Without needing to dramatize the point, it's reasonable to assume that Rachel would protest all potential animals native to the Arctic Circle being converted into meat. At a council meeting, where the fate of the whales is already decided, Malik arrives late, just in time to overturn the tribe's decision to feed their people, because the elder statesman doesn't want the bad publicity of whale blood spilling before the media cameras. But in a filmic sense, the moment symbolizes the Hollywoodization of the Inuits, in which Malik compromises his people's cultural norms by grafting a westerner's sense of morality towards aquatic wildlife. The Eskimo is remade in our own likeness, and has little connection to his real-life counterparts in The Fast Runner, where the indigenous Alaskans are less relatable. Big Miracle gives us the false impression that the decision to save the whales was a multi-cultural one, perpetuated by outsiders but agreed upon via the Inuit people's own volition, when in fact, these powerless natives were probably victims of strong-arm tactics orchestrated by the Greenpeace contingent, who ran interference on their way of life, ramming its animal rights activism down their primeval throats. The filmmaker, counting on our built-in sympathy for the large mammals, and counting right, has in Rachel, a benevolent protagonist, since moviegoers, American ones, share her value system, so as a result, the whale advocate's hubris goes unnoticed. To further obscure her pomposity, Big Miracle ensures us that the exploitation is coming from both sides. While Greenpeace threatens to expose these natives as murderers, the Inuit Eskimos keep pace with the westerners where the matter of ambition is concerned, thus matching the careerism of the television journalist by being capitalists, as brazen as can be. Overrun with tourists on media-related business, the desk clerk at a crowded Barrow inn has the temerity to charge Jill a room with an exorbitant price, knowing that the diva would be incapable of hacking the Arctic chill from the backseat of her car. Later, the tribal elder's son, already indoctrinated in western ways through popular culture(via cassette tapes, most notably, Guns 'n' Roses' Appetite for Destruction, a commentary on Barrow's big oil presence), also gets the better of Jill when he sells the reporter a piece of cardboard to guard her knees against ice at the whale viewing site for fifty dollars. It's crucial to the film's success that the Inuits are never portrayed as victims, but rather, formidable opponents to these interlopers, especially since the film posits Rachel as an uncomplicated heroine, when the truth of the matter is that she's stealing people's food, through the casual disregarding of Inuit traditions. Yes, save the orca in Free Willy, knowing what we know about marine parks such as Sea World and other oceanariums, complicit all, in the dolphin massacres, as seen in The Cove. When Jessie vandalizes the show tank holding the killer whale with graffiti, his criminality, in retrospect, plays now like naive activism. Arguably, the whales in Big Miracle should be food. So how does one go about preparing whale, exactly? It's none of our business. Expand
  2. Sep 22, 2012
    A truly delightful family film based on a true and heartwarming story, brought with lots of humour based on the very likable characters portrayed by Krasinski and Barrymore both oozing screen charisma.
  3. Feb 13, 2012
    I am SO HAPPY that this flopped. John Krasinski can't act and Drew Barrymore is more annoying than ever. It's been out two weeks and has only grossed $13.2 million against a budget over 40 million dollars.
  4. Jul 21, 2012
    Big Year, just like Dolphin Tale, has its flaws but can be mildly fun to watch. even if the pacing and characterization are somewhat lacking.
  5. Feb 4, 2012
    It was a generally pleasant film, but it really felt more like a TV docudrama than a film for the big screen. Also, stereotypical characters abound--the gruff soldier, the profit-driven oil man, and the bleeding heart Greenpeacenik...the characters were pretty flat and predictable.

    The scene in the helicopter was very funny!
  6. Jul 28, 2012
    Big Miracle, a family-friendly docudrama by means similar to that of last years Dolphin Tale, is pretty standard family fare. It doesn't have a storyline moved along by its characters (who are quite absent here, however many there are) but by an atmosphere of straightforward morals and warm, good will. There are actually a few surprising moments to be had here, which elevate the pictureBig Miracle, a family-friendly docudrama by means similar to that of last years Dolphin Tale, is pretty standard family fare. It doesn't have a storyline moved along by its characters (who are quite absent here, however many there are) but by an atmosphere of straightforward morals and warm, good will. There are actually a few surprising moments to be had here, which elevate the picture above the norm. It does step into reaching territory and Drew Barrymore's character comes off as irritating, but John Krasinski delivers a more comic, relaxed performance that adds to the genuine likability of the film. For families searching for harmless feel good fare, look no further. Expand

Generally favorable reviews - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 28
  2. Negative: 1 out of 28
  1. Reviewed by: Matt Singer
    Feb 7, 2012
    You'd have to possess a heart colder than the Northern tundra not to care about these poor animals working their flukes off to jerk audience tears, but emotional manipulation or not, this is still a movie about people standing around a hole waiting for something to happen.
  2. Reviewed by: Olly Richards
    Feb 6, 2012
    This true-life tale takes some believing in the era of global warming (too much ice? Really?) but the sledgehammer emoting should let you know you're in a family drama.
  3. 50
    The film bulldozes any genuine nuance or insight or even emotion in exchange for ready-made plot points and by-the-numbers catharsis.