Directed by Ken Kwapis
In Ken Kwapis's big-budget, low-maintenance Big Miracle, TV news anchor Adam Carlson (John Krasinski) and Greenpeace activist Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore) agree to overlook the disagreements that ended their one-time romance to save three whales trapped under ice off the coast of Barrow, Alaska. Just a few hundred miles outside the Arctic Circle, Barrow isn't the first place one would expect to attract people who look like Kristen Bell (as a fame-hungry California anchorwoman who attracts Adam's fancy) or Dermot Mulroney (an endearingly one-note National Guardsman tasked with transporting a barge that could free the whales), but once news of the rescue mission goes national, everyone's looking to either cash in on or help out the cause, including White House executive assistant Kelly Meyers (the always-welcome Vinessa Shaw). Even President Reagan and the Soviets are in agreement that these whales must be saved by any means necessary. A possible spark is rekindled between Adam and Rachel; the natives of Barrow rejoice in the community built as result of the crisis; and the whales are faced with innumerable setbacks and triumphs in their long journey to hopeful freedom.
Big Miracle is a totally straightforward, "inspired by a true story" tale that couldn't be any prouder of its own conventionality: From Michael Begler's script (based on Thomas Rose's novel Freeing the Whales), which offers characters who aren't really presented as people so much as archetypes to articulate The Moral of The Story, to Cliff EIdelman's score, which works overtime to cue in the emotionally challenged what should be felt at any given moment, there's a clear, unified determination here to remain as squarely in the realm of safe and sound as possible. Oddly enough, though, this lack of evident ambition also works to the film's advantage: By sticking so closely to a blueprint designed and redesigned by countless others over the years, Big Miracle is so determined to Get It Right—which it does, much of the time—that it winds up serving as a reminder why this breed of story ever worked so well in the first place. Big Miracle won't move mountains (or glaciers, rather), but when it comes down to it, it still feels good to root for the underdog, especially when, let's face it, helpless animals are in harm's way and big, shiny movie stars are along for the ride.
Opens February 3