Blu-ray Review: Big Miracle

Big Miracle Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: Ken Kwapis | CAST: Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Tim Blake Nelson, Dermot Mulroney, Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, Rob Riggle
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 6/19/2012 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $34.98
BONUSES: commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes
SPECS: PG | 107 min. | Family drama | 2.40:1 aspect ratio | 5.1 DTS-HD audio | English, Spanish, French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Big MiracleSweet and uplifting, Big Miracle didn’t get the attention it deserves at the box office.

Telling the story of how three trapped whales inspired a nation as well as goodwill between Russians and Americans in the volatile 1980s, the movie handles its subject matter with respect and heart. Big Miracle effectively mixes laughs with drama.

The film is headlined by John Krasinski (Something Borrowed), as the up-and-coming reporter who broke the news story of the whales, and Drew Barrymore (Everybody’s Fine), who plays a fiesty Greenpeace worker who rallies the effort to save the giant creatures.

But Big Miracle is really an emsemble movie, featuring equally good performances from Ted Danson (TV’s Bored to Death), as the big oil executive whose heart is turned by the whales; Kristen Bell (You Again), as the Los Angeles reporter who sees the story as making her career; Tim Blake Nelson (Flypaper), as the local worker who helps Barrymore; Dermot Mulroney (The Grey), as the National Guard general who’s on the case; James LeGros (TV’s Mildred Pierce) and Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street) as the Michigan small business owners whose de-icer helps keep the whales safe; and even cameos from Kathy Baker (Take Shelter) as the wife who gets Danson into action and Shea Whigham (TV’s Boardwalk Empire) as the helicopter pilot whose eye feezes over in the cold.

And that’s not counting the stellar performances from the many local Alaskan residents who peppered the cast.

Director Ken Kwapis (He’s Just Not That Into You) weaves all the characters and storylines beautifully, keeping the pace of the movie moving and the tension about the danger of the whales intense.

Along with the battle to save the creatures in Alaska, we follow a family who become glued to their television to catch more news, school children whose favorite essay subject are the whales, and the many news reporters that follow every turn of the story. Archival footage is mixed with the film shots, giving the movie a feel of authenticity.

Getting it right was important to Kwapis, according to the making-of featurette included on the Blu-ray. Much better than most of these, the piece eshews the everyone’s a genius type of interviews for ones that are much more sincere. Danson, Barrymore and others talk about their time on the set in Anchorage, and all involved appear to be having lots of fun. Kwapis and others describe how important it was to get real locals to play the local people, to erect buildings just like the ones in Barrow and to get anamatronic whales that looked real enough to break our hearts.

The “Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction” featurette is perhaps the best extra on the disc, comparing the film to the real-life events. Although the names were changed, most of the characters in the film were based on real people, and we hear from the men who took their de-icer to Barrow to help, the White House woman who met her future husband during the rescue mission and the Greenpeace lady who’s still an activist today.

The disc also has some cute deleted scenes, with intros from Kwapis, and a commentary by Kwapis, which is filled with information. It’s obvious that Kwapis is enamored with this area and the Alaskan people and that he did his homework for this film. It’s an entertaining and informative listen.

Suitable for all members of the family, Big Miracle also looks and sounds top-notch on Blu-ray. The Blu-ray disc has the high-definition version on one side and standard-def DVD on the other. In high-def, the colors of the town’s sole Mexican restaurant and the subtle blues in the ice pop nicely. And the whale calls sound beautiful in the disc’s 5.1 DTS-HD.


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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.