SIFF Review – Turtle: The Incredible Journey

2010 SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION!
Unrated
80 minutes

***

You know what’s incredible? The fact that humans survived evolution to become the dominant creatures on Earth. I guess an opposable thumb really goes a long way. Because compared to what the Loggerhead Turtle must face, humans are pathetically pampered. A loggerhead is born an orphan and must cowboy up immediately or dies trying. Once hatched, it must dig itself out what would otherwise be a sandy grave. Then it has to run a gauntlet of beach predators on its way into the ocean before embarking on a 4000 kilometer, quarter-of-a-century journey via the Gulf Stream to carry out their destiny. Being American, I don’t actually know how far 4000 kilometers is, but it sounds really far. “Turtle: The Incredible Journey” is basically a spin-off of “Finding Nemo” starring the surfer turtle. Only cuter and more intense.

“Turtle” is an absolutely gorgeous film with some astoundingly intimate scenes depicting the wild ocean. The camera is at turtle-level portraying her world from her point-of-view. She travels along the Gulf Stream encountering humpback whales, jellyfish, seahorses, sharks and contending with the deadliest predator of all… Giant Squid! (Just kidding. It’s Man.) There are some truly original shots of rare sea creatures including microscopic sea life at night.

The film is narrated by the velvet-voiced Miranda Richardson who lends what is essentially “Animal Doc Story Crafting 101” a lot more credibility. (On a side note: I totally got Miranda Richardson confused with the recently deceased Natasha Richardson and spent a great deal of the film being more sad than necessary.) There are a few scenes that hold an environmental message. One such scene, in which a “charitable” fisherman lets a hooked turtle go, feels a bit staged and takes you out of what is otherwise a very engrossing narrative. In fact, many scenes have to have been staged, because a film crew couldn’t possibly follow the same turtle for 20+ years. Fortunately, all turtles look alike to us humans so the transition from one turtle age-group to the next feels mostly seamless.

The life of a Loggerhead is epic. They are born with all the purpose and drive a creature can possess. Meanwhile, human babies can’t do shit. They can’t find their own food. They certainly can’t make a home for themselves. They don’t have mutually respectful relationships with sharks. They would be screwed were it not for the patience and guidance of older humans. But Loggerhead turtles are hardcore right out of the gate. They outlived the dinosaurs. And they’ll probably outlive us too. Their journey really is incredible. The film is just pretty good.

Originally published on FilmThreat.com (now defunct).

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