Big Miracle: Inspired by "real-life" events is an "unexpected gem"

Big Miracle inspired by 'real-life' events is an 'unexpected gem'

Big Miracle (PG)

Verdict: Lovely-blubberly

Did you know that George Bush Sr’s first Presidential bid hinged upon an international effort to rescue three grey whales trapped under Alaskan ice in 1988 Me neither.

Happily, once you have got past the ridiculous but endearing presumption that the ‘real-life’ events which inspired Big Miracle linger in any memories beyond the States, you discover an unexpected gem.

TV reporter Adam Carlson (John Krasinski) unwittingly triggers immense national interest when he reports on the plight of the mammals.

Drew Barrymore in a scene from Big Miracle - about the rescue of a family of gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle

Drew Barrymore in a scene from Big Miracle – about the rescue of a family of gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle

Despite his ambition to move his career beyond the frozen backwater, the scoop of his life proves a potentially poisoned chalice as the media descends and the whale-hunting traditions of the local Inuit community come under scrutiny.

When Carlson’s ex-girlfriend and Greenpeace activist Rachel (Drew Barrymore) gets involved, the situation escalates into a showdown between big business, represented by Ted Danson’s pitch-perfect oil baron J.W. McGraw, and the embryonic environmental lobby.

After they unhappily join forces with each other and the National Guard to cut a path through the ice to open water, an already nuanced and intelligent tale becomes an exciting race against time.

The real triumph of director Ken Kwapis is to keep tension building while also passing subtle comment on everything from media manipulation of public opinion to the most cynical depths of modern politicking.

Bonus points are available for spotting a young Sarah Palin in the archive footage with which proceedings are liberally sprinkled.