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Big Miracle
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Big Miracle More at IMDbPro »

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37 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

We liked it!

Author: ocjetsfan from United States
4 February 2012

This is a slow movie. Prepare to watch people standing around a hole in the ice. If you think gray whales are a waste of time, you won't be moved. On the other hand, if you can pull for a family of marine mammals in danger of freezing to death, you will probably find satisfaction in this movie's numerous charms. You'll enjoy the dignity given to the Inuit people, environmentalists, oil executives, Soviets, journalists, and even Republicans(!) who collaborate in dramatic efforts to save the trapped whales. You'll appreciate the care taken with a late 80's period piece, down to the silk blouses, big glasses, hair, and Peter Jennings. You may even be moved by the warm and unguarded performances of Drew Berrymore, John Kasinksi, and others.

It's possible you may have your heart enlarged by the uncommon efforts of truly diverse people on behalf of beautiful and vulnerable earthlings like the grays. There is an unabashed love for both the whales and the humans portrayed in this movie, whose lives and futures are at stake in a variety of ways. Some may regard this affection as sentimentality, but the sense of humor sustained throughout the film argues against this. Somehow I think the worst-ever portrayal of Ronald Reagan was hardly unintentional. This director definitely has it in for for Minnesotans, too.

My ten and thirteen year-old sons were engrossed by this true story brought to the screen and gave it two thumbs up. My wife and I enjoyed being unembarrassed in their presence throughout.

Simply as an introduction to Barrow, Alaska, the movie is totally worthwhile.

My biggest complaint: Drew Barrymore's lips should be blue when scuba diving in frigid Artic waters.

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37 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Well Executed Story For Both Adults and Kids

Author: slitherk from United States
4 February 2012

Yes, there were simplistic clichés, but for a PG-rated movie and the confines therein, Big Miracle is about as good as it can get. The Inupiat people, the reporters, the extraction industry - all sides were treated with a degree of nuance. The take-away message was really important too - that you can accomplish things with people you don't agree with or even like. And we really enjoyed the efforts made to set the film properly in its late 80s period.

I disagree with the other reviews that found the special effects lacking. I don't think they detracted from the story, which in the end was quite compelling.

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30 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Great Family Film with Strong Environmental Message

Author: rannynm from United States
13 February 2012

Nine-year-old KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Anthony Aranda loved this film. Watch his video review or read below what he had to say: "This is one of the best movies I have ever seen that is based on a true story. This movie is really awesome because there were so many people that came together to save three whales. It was really heart-breaking because a lot of people put their own lives in danger to save the lives of the whales. This movie is all about Adam and Nathan who are out and see three whales that are trapped under the ice and can't find their way to the ocean. There is a small hole that the whales keep using to breathe so first they try digging that whole to make it bigger. Adam's friend Rachel comes to help save the whales and do everything she can. She asks the governor for help but he says no so she tells the news about what he said. The governor then decides to help. They have to work fast because the hole keeps freezing and getting smaller and the ice leading to the ocean keeps freezing over making the distance even longer. Some of the main characters in the movie are Adam, Rachel, and Nathan. My favorite character is Nathan because he is such a funny character at first and then he really starts to care about the whales. He also starts to spend a lot of time with his grandfather because his grandfather likes to spend a lot of time around the ocean and helps animals in need. My favorite part in the movie is when everyone started to dig the holes to help the whales breathe and get back to the ocean. I really like this part because it really shows how everyone cares about saving the whales and how much people love the whales. A part that was really funny was when the Governor had to help save the whales because Rachel told the news that he wouldn't help. It was funny to see him shaking the hand of a guy dressed up as a whale. I would recommend this movie for all ages because it is a really good movie. There are not any violent parts in this movie. This movie is a really great family movie. Go out and see this movie in theaters on February 3rd." Review by Anthony Aranda, age 9, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic.

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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Heart tugging

Author: StInSanDiego from United States
18 April 2012

Okay, The Big Miracle is not an epic or a grand movie. What it is, is a totally enjoyable feature with a good and simple story with no unusual surprises that people can relate to. It is good to see the Hollywood factory machine put out a movie like this. Much credit has to be given to Drew Barrymore (sort of a mogul herself these days).

Ken Kwapis does a really good job in telling this story without relying on massive special effects. He also works very well with his actors. He was given a good script from Jack Amiel and Michael Begler, both of whom also resisted going for any kind of cheap humor.

Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski have a nice chemistry together as they deliver fine performances.

This movie was, I am told, inspired by a true story about a small town reporter and a Greenpeace volunteer who are joined by rival superpowers to save a family of gray whales that are trapped by ice in the Arctic Circle.

The story, the visuals and the very fact that whales are a main character in this movie, all tug at the heart strings.

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24 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Whale of a good time.

Author: DarkVulcan29 ( from United States
13 February 2012

In the late 80's, in the Alaska wilderness, three whales are trapped in foaming ice, they must be get free or they'll die. This becomes big news, every news person from country to country is covering it. Politicians star getting involved, so does the coast guard. But time is running out for the whales, will they get free, or will it be too late?

John Krasinski is good, playing his typical likable, smart Alec self. Drew Barrymore is also good playing a strong female role, who is very determined to save the whales at any cost. Ted Danson and Dermot Mulroney are also in there supporting roles. The whales are also quite memorable. This is a movie for everybody to enjoy.

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Wholesome Family Movie

Author: contact-951-691937 from Israel
18 August 2012

Bravo for creating a refreshingly clean family movie! It's encouraging and rare these days to have an opportunity to view a film the whole family can enjoy. Big Miracle is a wholesome, educational and entertaining movie that I happily recommend to anyone struggling like we often to to find a movie suitable for the under 15 crowd, that adults will also enjoy.

Big Miracle is loosely based on a true story and utilizes TV news clips from the Reagan era that we felt made the film very realistic. Ancient traditions, multi-generational challenges, morality, ethics, friendship, love and social responsibility are weaved into a story set in beautiful Alaska that made us laugh, cry and cheer along with the characters - it was a fun adventure into a world we didn't know much about.

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Well staged feelgood movie with message

Author: Neil Welch from United Kingdom
17 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Based on a 1988 true story (which, apparently, had a more ambiguous ending), Big Miracle tells of a family of three whales which get trapped beneath the ice near Barrow, Alaska, with only a rapidly freezing hole to breathe out of. The mutually antagonistic factions of the oil business, the Inupiat locals, and the environmental lobby combine to try to keep the whales alive until it becomes possible to get them the 5 miles from their breathing hole to open water, augmented (if not aided and abetted) by a sizeable press faction. Even the end of the Cold War gets a look in.

This film arrived with no fanfare and, despite a couple of irritations, proved to be a feelgood movie which I enjoyed.It is very well mounted, with most of the scenes involving the whales and the ice field being convincingly staged. The unexpectedly starry cast all did well, although I found Drew Barrymore's Greenpeace girl a bit excessively preachy (by the time the film finished I had come to the conclusion that she was meant to be), John Kasinsky is a pleasing low-key leading man, and Kristin Bell is happy to portray a shallow young woman of over-riding ambition and little compassion.

It may be a little too leisurely for young children but, otherwise, I think it makes a good family movie despite the fact that the film's title isn't very good.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A surprisingly smart family drama.

Author: Ryan_MYeah
7 September 2012

Big Miracle looks deceiving due to its advertising. Looking like a sappy, clichéd mess of a cash in. Even at first impression, it's deceiving. Characters like the oft-seen charismatic ex-boyfriend, the spunky animal rights activist, the street-smart young kid, the pretty fish out of water journalist, the local elderly wiseman, the mean old oil tycoon turned good guy, the unlikely geniuses who provide comic relief, and even the self-absorbed douchebag news anchor had me fearing for its quality.

However, something about this true story just sticks. The script is overly clichéd, but there's a surprising heart and lack of cheap corniness to it that feels more honest than its sappy sounding premise may let on. It also boasts another surprising element: actual intelligence. It may not be groundbreaking, but it's done plenty of justice by an excellent cast. Even if it's not always focused, the powerful ending is happily earned, adding up to a satisfying family drama.

***1/2 / *****

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

The Politics of Saving Whales

Author: Chris_Pandolfi from Los Angeles, CA
9 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An international effort to free three gray whales – Bonnet, Crossbeak, and Bone – briefly made headlines in October of 1988. In the Beaufort Sea near the town of Point Barrow, Alaska, an Inuit hunter discovered the whales trapped beneath pack ice; using only chainsaws and water pumps, the hunter and his fellow villagers took it upon themselves to cut through the ice and attempt to lead the whales towards open water. A week later, word had already spread to the remainder of the Inuit community, local biologists, and an Anchorage news station. The story then caught the attention of national media journalists, leading to a series of actions that became known as Operation Breakthrough. Whale biologists, the United States Department of State, and two Soviet icebreakers all became involved. By the end of the month, the calf whale had died. And although the icebreakers successfully broke through a ridge of Arctic ice, the fate of the remaining two whales could not be determined.

It comes as no surprise to me that "Big Miracle," a dramatization of Operation Breakthrough, not only renames the whales Fred, Wilma, and Bam Bam but also presents audiences with a more conclusive ending. It also doesn't bother me in the slightest. Movies like this give us what we often times don't get in real life, namely a sense of optimism, the satisfaction of achieving the impossible, and most importantly, emotional resolution. We go to them not only expecting to feel good, but actually craving it. If you think I'm wrong, you need only to reflect on the strong positive reactions to "Free Willy," "Dolphin Tale," and even non-marine animal movies as recent as "War Horse." I value authentic films that deal with life's harsh realities, but I also recognize that we need movies like "Big Miracle" in our lives. They're entertaining, but more to the point, they instill hope, even if it's only for a few hours.

In terms of marine-themed movies, its most recent basis of comparison is "Dolphin Tale," which was also a dramatic adaptation of a true story. Although both films show considerable artistic license for the sake of appealing to a family audience, "Big Miracle" is refreshing in that it isn't quite as innocent. It's made clear, almost from the very start, that the effort to save the whales has less to do with the whales themselves and more to do with the characters' personal, professional, and political agendas. It's not about setting aside their differences and working together so much as it is about doing what it takes to make a point and get ahead. In a few instances, director Ken Kwapis has the temerity to espouse the validity of opposing viewpoints. Ultimately, it's good to know that the all the partisanship and personality deficits are only bringing the whales that much close to freedom.

We have an Anchorage news reporter named Adam Carlson (John Krasinski), who has been living in Point Barrow for four years covering menial stories, many centering around the town's only Mexican restaurant; when he discovers the whales trying to break through the ice for air, he realizes that this could be his opportunity to enter larger, more respected news organizations. We have Adam's ex-girlfriend, a Greenpeace activist named Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore), who protests everything from Alaskan oil drilling to Inuit whaling and sees the trapped whales as a way to give Greenpeace a bigger voice. We have the Inuit people; although they rely on whales for food, they recognize that the American journalists will interpret their actions as murder instead of survival, and so they join the rescue effort to paint themselves in a better light.

We have J.W. McGraw (Ted Danson), an oil tycoon whose company won the rights to drill for oil in the Point Barrow area. His wife (Kathy Baker), rather cleverly, subliminally convinces him that funding the transportation of an icebreaking hovercraft will give his company good P.R. A White House aide named Kelly Meyers (Vinessa Shaw) thinks along similar lines; this rescue effort would not only add credibility to Vice President George Bush's election campaign, it would also do wonders for turning the public's attention away from the mistakes of the Reagan administration. She gets into contact Col. Scott Boyer (Dermot Mulroney), who begrudgingly oversees the mission to transport the hovercraft towards Point Barrow.

The list goes on. There's a Los Angeles news reporter (Kristen Bell), who isn't taken seriously by her superiors, is always under pressure to look beautiful for the camera, and is just as ambitious as Adam. She's also aware that, because of the attention the whales are getting, the public remains unaware of the thirty-plus wars going on in the world. And then there's a pair of Minnesota businessmen who see this rescue as an opportunity to test their ice-melting fans and ultimately drum up business. It all comes down to all-American heroism, which seems to be the attitude that unifies everyone in this effort. So imagine the shock and reluctance when it becomes clear that the assistance of a Soviet icebreaker ship will be required. How nice of "Big Miracle" to remind us that, however momentarily, even enemies can believe in the same cause.

-- Chris Pandolfi (

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Big Miracle is a Big Surprise

Author: KarenSantaFe from Santa Fe, NM
16 July 2012

I watched this film on a whim. Wow, I was really surprised, it was GOOD! In addition to being thoroughly entertained and moved, it was very moving to know that the film is based on a true story.

I don't know how they rendered the whales (CGI, mechanical, etc.), but they were extremely life-like. It was also interesting to see how many different cultures interacted -- political realms, the media, the local Inuit community, the oil industry, environmentalists. The script was terrific, and be sure to stay tuned for the end credits, where the actors are shown alongside the real-life players in this drama.

It should be noted that Kristin Bell was excellent in the film, along with the rest of the cast. She appears pretty far down in the credits, and I'm not sure why, as she had a fairly prominent role.

Watch this one, you won't regret it!

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