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"Oceans", what a letdown...


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#1 uwxplorer

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Posted 06 November 2010 - 04:15 PM

I have read and heard many times that, in an underwater movie, the story is more important than the images (and that's even more true for non underwater movies, obviously). I am not yet a practitioner of this rule, as I am still simply enjoying the naive pleasure of being underwater and being able to bring back images of the magic world beneath...
I loved the Blue Planet BBC series, both story-wise and for its images, and I had great expectations for Oceans, of which I had heard great praises.
Can I say it bluntly? I was bored. Worse, I was annoyed at the waste of gorgeous footage put together in, at best a meaningless movie, at worst a patchwork of clichés. At times, even after watching the movie twice (I did not go to theaters, I bought a DVD, hence my seemingly dated reaction), I had a hard time figuring out whether the directors had actually checked out the final cut and just let some intern finish the job while they went about their business. It does not appear so, if I believe the DVD extras, in which both editor and directors boast about their achievements (in a very naive way which might be attributed to their lack of command of the English language, if I want to give them the benefit of the doubt).
Am I the only one to feel like this? What do you think of this movie? What can make a movie about the oceans great ?
X.

Edited by uwxplorer, 06 November 2010 - 08:34 PM.


#2 DeanB

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 12:10 AM

I have read and heard many times that, in an underwater movie, the story is more important than the images (and that's even more true for non underwater movies, obviously). I am not yet a practitioner of this rule, as I am still simply enjoying the naive pleasure of being underwater and being able to bring back images of the magic world beneath...
I loved the Blue Planet BBC series, both story-wise and for its images, and I had great expectations for Oceans, of which I had heard great praises.
Can I say it bluntly? I was bored. Worse, I was annoyed at the waste of gorgeous footage put together in, at best a meaningless movie, at worst a patchwork of clichés. At times, even after watching the movie twice (I did not go to theaters, I bought a DVD, hence my seemingly dated reaction), I had a hard time figuring out whether the directors had actually checked out the final cut and just let some intern finish the job while they went about their business. It does not appear so, if I believe the DVD extras, in which both editor and directors boast about their achievements (in a very naive way which might be attributed to their lack of command of the English language, if I want to give them the benefit of the doubt).
Am I the only one to feel like this? What do you think of this movie? What can make a movie about the oceans great ?
X.



Was it truly this bad??? I was really looking forward to this film :) I will still check out the Blu-ray when available, I suppose it Just goes to show you can have all the time/resources in the world and still produce average material.

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#3 ehanauer

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 07:26 AM

I was blown away by the incredible footage but put off by the juvenile narration. Essentially it was a bunch of non connected moving stills. I'll probably buy the DVD but play it without sound, or with music of my choice.

Visuals were brilliant.
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#4 uwxplorer

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 07:28 AM

It's worth watching for some amazing quality shots (to that extent, I will keep watching it to remind myself of the goal to achieve in footage quality). However, my impression is that they have tried to cram too much material in one feature-length movie. The Blue Planet series of 4 DVDs (that's the only format I have watched this series on) has a much slower pace, giving time to get acquainted to each species, and document (part of) their behavior.
Maybe Oceans cutting style will be commonplace in the future (and therefore my reaction is maybe just that of an old-fashioned moviegoer), but to me it smacks of ADHD... Not to mention that a lot of shots have been shown (better) in Blue Planet. Or the awful commentary read by James Bond...sorry, Pierce Brosnan. I think Jacques Clouzeau...sorry, Peter Sellers would at least made it funny to listen to.

#5 Drew

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 09:33 AM

I've only watched the original cut and not the Disney cut with Brosnan's narration. Jacque Perrin's narration in the french version was poetic. The narrative is about biodiversity on this planet and the perils it faces in the last act. It's less narrative documentary and more stylized arthouse wildlife movie, letting the images do the talking about the beauty of the oceans.
I'm pretty sure Disney dumbed down the movie and made the narration more "accessible" which defeats the vision of the director's Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud. The BBC narrative style tends to be more accessible but sometimes imagery itself is worth the watch on a movie screen in full resolution vs on a TV. Even the Bluray on a projector screen doesn't do it justice. Somethings you just have to watch in full 4k glory... even if the film was shot on 35mm and HDCAM.
The french version of the film wasn't cut to be an all-audience film, it had arthouse ambitions (which seeing Les Deux Jacques history isn't surprising). It does not translate well to the narrative style of films most people are accustomed to. And thank goodness for that!
It doesn't have the strongest script, but the visuals are certainly worth the $80million.

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#6 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 10:05 AM

Perhaps the best solution is to hit shuffle on your music player - and put it too your own sound track (without narration) - and rejoice in the images.

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#7 Steve Douglas

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 10:08 AM

Any film that gets the word out, any film whose message reaches those who have not received it is okay in my book. If it is preaching to the choir, remember that we are a small choir and that for the larger masses, those cliches are not cliches at all as they are seeing and hearing for the first time. I have not seen this movie as yet, but there is a whole world who needs to view this type of film if ecological progress and marine appreciation are to stem the tide of ocean destruction.
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#8 Scubamoose

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 12:34 PM

It's less narrative documentary and more stylized arthouse wildlife movie, letting the images do the talking about the beauty of the oceans.


Agree on that one!
I liked it!

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#9 DeanB

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 01:01 PM

but the visuals are certainly worth the $80million.


HOW MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ... That's out-bleeding-rageous ... they could have donated half of that to Sea Shepherd :)

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#10 stewsmith

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 01:26 PM

HOW MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ... That's out-bleeding-rageous ... they could have donated half of that to Sea Shepherd :)

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I totally agree Dean, well not that 40 million should be donated to SS although it is a good cause and one that I support myself. I remember posting on here within another thread about the same topic that nothing should cost that much to shoot. I am sure given 2 million that there would be enough talent on WP to create something of better quality. It really is a joke, I would love to see the accounts for the production. There was certainly someone making a lot of money.

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#11 Drew

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 05:44 AM

Perhaps the best solution is to hit shuffle on your music player - and put it too your own sound track (without narration) - and rejoice in the images.


Then you'd miss out on the sounds of the animals (most of which were sound designed in btw) :).
The narration by Brosnan was probably key to getting a lot of the funding from Buena Vista. American cinema in general seems to think the budget is paid back per word in the script!

I am sure given 2 million that there would be enough talent on WP to create something of better quality. It really is a joke, I would love to see the accounts for the production. There was certainly someone making a lot of money.


I suggest you do a little research on the logistics of setting up a huge crew in remote locations for months. Making epic scale movies that aren't CGI isn't cheap. Especially one that started shooting in 2003 in the most remote locations.

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#12 Huw Jenkins

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 02:31 PM

i thought the editing within the scenes was superb. yes the transitions between scenes was hurried, but thats splitting hairs a little. It's a different experience in the cinema, you have people eating popcorn and talking on mobile phones, the pacing should be different to a television documentary. It's a group experience, so cant be so information intensive and often needs to be more fast pace. The sound design was fantastic!

you cant really blame bond, he's just the voice artist and would have read a script. no matter who read it, it would still be the same words read in the same way. (i watched it in spanish and it's the same)

Edited by Huw Jenkins, 09 November 2010 - 02:40 PM.


#13 Huw Jenkins

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Posted 10 November 2010 - 06:57 AM

yes. i've just discovered that the spanish version too is completely different to the american bond version, there is very little commentary, just a sentence here and there to introduce ideas so the scenes feel much longer. this is probably why some people like it much more than the people watching the american version.

try getting a french / spanish version cheap on ebay, you'll see love it. (it doesnt matter if you cant understand it, there's literally one sentence per 5-10 minutes - for example there is no commentary what so ever from the introduction of the seals/comorants hunting, during the great white attack / orca attack, right up till after the blue whale, a little during the night topside shots, and then no commentary during the whole of the night time scene where the mantis attacks the crab etc)

Edited by Huw Jenkins, 10 November 2010 - 08:23 AM.


#14 stewsmith

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Posted 10 November 2010 - 09:33 AM

I suggest you do a little research on the logistics of setting up a huge crew in remote locations for months. Making epic scale movies that aren't CGI isn't cheap. Especially one that started shooting in 2003 in the most remote locations.


Excuse my ignorance, when I hear numbers like 80 million it just does not make sense. For that money you could buy Wayne Rooney. All joking aside, the figure just seems way too much. I am sorry if I am out of touch with " reality " but I would love to see a breakdown of costs to get to this sum.

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#15 Huw Jenkins

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 01:13 AM

Excuse my ignorance, when I hear numbers like 80 million it just does not make sense. For that money you could buy Wayne Rooney. All joking aside, the figure just seems way too much. I am sorry if I am out of touch with " reality " but I would love to see a breakdown of costs to get to this sum.

Stew

the film has quite a few fictional parts to it. for example the whales, dolphins, sharks caught in the nets, being finned are animatronics. there's cg in quite a few scenes, the cherbourg museum was extended by cg etc.

new stabilization technology was developed to be able to shoot steadier on zodiacs, mini copters etc.

the storm scene with the huge ship powering through the waves at the end couldn't have been cheap.

the top shots were shot on 35mm. it's gonna rack up the dollars shooting a high shooting ratio on 35mm.

i think it took 6 years to make. so divide that by the number of crew and knock off the equipment, and it probably works out to about 80 grand per person per year. (nope, i'm not good at maths, but you know what i'm getting at)

Edited by Huw Jenkins, 11 November 2010 - 01:23 AM.


#16 Drew

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 05:57 AM

A film crew isn't the same as a TV production crew.
For example, in San Diego, the Galatee crew had I think 15 crew members (it was a few years back so I may have forgotten someone). South Africa, 18 (of the ones I remember) including topside etc etc.
From technical crew to logistics, a film crew will always be big. One can compare to the skeleton crew of a BBC production, who in South Africa had director/producer, CO/DP, AC, topside CO and AC and boat crew. Watch the production value of each on a 4k screen (Earth vs Oceans) and tell me which one looks better.
Oceans is the biggest blockbuster budget natural history film EVER and I think they just broke even at the box office worldwide. Everyone has an opinion of how it could've been better, but the point is some of the images they captured are undeniably insane! And most of it were left in the cutting bin.
Of course, it is nature they are shooting so luck is also involved. For example, the Blue Planet's sardine run underwater shots were bought from Charles Maxwell because they didn't have the visibility and activity to form the narrative. That probably saved them money.
Nature doesn't have union reps so it plays to its own tune. From weather, animals, conditions, equipment etc, all have to function to get the shot, hence the long stays at any location to get the shot. It's not like a coral reef. Behavior and spectacular events that are rare are the most expensive to shoot properly.

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#17 DeanB

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 06:58 AM

A film crew isn't the same as a TV production crew.
For example, in San Diego, the Galatee crew had I think 15 crew members (it was a few years back so I may have forgotten someone). South Africa, 18 (of the ones I remember) including topside etc etc.
From technical crew to logistics, a film crew will always be big. One can compare to the skeleton crew of a BBC production, who in South Africa had director/producer, CO/DP, AC, topside CO and AC and boat crew. Watch the production value of each on a 4k screen (Earth vs Oceans) and tell me which one looks better.
Oceans is the biggest blockbuster budget natural history film EVER and I think they just broke even at the box office worldwide. Everyone has an opinion of how it could've been better, but the point is some of the images they captured are undeniably insane! And most of it were left in the cutting bin.
Of course, it is nature they are shooting so luck is also involved. For example, the Blue Planet's sardine run underwater shots were bought from Charles Maxwell because they didn't have the visibility and activity to form the narrative. That probably saved them money.
Nature doesn't have union reps so it plays to its own tune. From weather, animals, conditions, equipment etc, all have to function to get the shot, hence the long stays at any location to get the shot. It's not like a coral reef. Behavior and spectacular events that are rare are the most expensive to shoot properly.


If you don't mind Drew I will use this in my next 'treatment' I was convinced :) 80 million anyone ???

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#18 Drew

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 08:18 AM

the top shots were shot on 35mm. it's gonna rack up the dollars shooting a high shooting ratio on 35mm.


Funny you should say that. For the great white breach sequence, I was on the boat when they shot about 2 hours each morning to get the breach using a Arri 435 @ 150fps. The camera would roll for a few minutes, then reload, then roll then reload... I remember sitting with the DP, Luc Drion and talking about why he didn't use the Phantom or some other highspeed camera with digital which could roll for hours, saving the need for reloads and concentrating on capturing the breach. It was an esthetic choice to use 35mm film as much as possible. Assuming 1000ft reels, that's about $400 a reel, without processing. So yes...it's not cheap. Film is expensive and they chose to use it anyway.
They worked very hard to get the right presets for HDCAM to match the film used for seamless grading.
Now, I won't question the choice of people who know more about their craft than I do my own name. Would topside shooters like Christophe have captured those bird shots as well with a Red or Phantom on their shoulder? We'll never know. All I can say is they did a magnificent job and it's a pity that some cinema goers won't be able to tell the difference between those shots and lesser ones.

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#19 Huw Jenkins

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 12:10 PM

They worked very hard to get the right presets for HDCAM to match the film used for seamless grading.

i agree, and i thought the grading was stunning. quite stylized but so beautiful. the palette appeared to have been restricted hugely, the sky color always seemed to be very early morning, but very elegant.

another massive chunk of the budget that no-one really thinks about is insurance. yup, it's boring as hell, but unfortunately it's needed and ridiculously expensive! would love to get a final figure for that one.

I was on the boat when they shot about 2 hours each morning to get the breach using a Arri 435 @ 150fps.

man, that must have been cool!

Edited by Huw Jenkins, 11 November 2010 - 12:11 PM.


#20 Long John Silver

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 05:20 AM

Have you some links to the movie backstage and production?