Turtle Odyssey

At the Movies Blog
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As a movie critic, I get lots of questions about film. Sometimes people ask how many movies I watched in a day. One time that was five, a few weeks before the Oscars were announced and studios were pushing all kinds of movies for awards.

The other day I had one of those reviewing experiences that is a lot like the fun fact of how Jimi Hendrix opened on a tour for The Monkees. I went to the IMAX dome theatre in Balboa Park to see a screening of Turtle Odyssey, and later that evening watched the horror flick Midsommar.

Russell Crowe may have yelled at reporters recently while promoting his Roger Ailes project, but his voice was smooth as silk as he narrated this film.

We follow a Green Sea Turtle named Bunji. She was the last to hatch of the 100 eggs, and looks adorable as she scampers across the sand to the water. That journey alone takes four days, and involves dodging some Ghost Crabs. Early into this adventure, a seagull swoops in and starts flying away with her. A woman behind me gasped. Luckily, the turtle broke free and landed safely in the water. But there would be more danger lurking ahead.

Crowe informs us that only 1 in 1,000 sea turtles will make it to maturity.

As we see Bunji grow, we see her chomp on plants, and jellyfish. We get a brief lecture on plastics in the water, and are shown how one bag looks very similar to the type of jellyfish that Bunji likes to eat.

There’s a brief bit that shows Dr. Bell doing research from his boat, tagging a few of the turtles. There are half as many as there were 100 years ago, and they’re trying to figure out why.

It was refreshing that they didn’t spend too much time with the humans. It’s much more interesting looking at octopus and strange seahorses.

We see a Humpback Whale, and the underwater shot of it right before it leaps above the water, is breathtaking. In fact, most of the footage captured in this is.

The facts that are sprinkled in are very educational. We learn that this species hasn’t changed in 100 million years. When sharks arrive, the turtles can make a deep dive, slowing their heartbeat to one beat per minute.

Watching a 16-foot Great White slowly swim by is intense, and the soundtrack is perfectly done to convey that. At one point, they seem to channel Wagner as some sting rays show up.

Not all the dangers are other animals, either. At one point, Bunji has some bad weather to contend with.

After 25 years, it’s back to the beach for some hubba hubba. If you’re bringing the family, don’t worry. There’s no mating shown, and the kids will get a kick out of seeing the cute Clown Fish and sea cows (one even burps). At that point, the film composer made the brilliant choice of going with the tuba.

Bunji will have 1,000 offspring in her life (and you thought two kids were tough). Some travel over half a million miles. And you thought walking to school was tough.

I was saddened to see in the closing credits that this was dedicated to one of the producers, Jonathan Barker, who died of cancer (he was 66). He gave us the terrific Volcanoes last year, as well as Bugs!, Into the Deep, Flight of the Butterflies, and many others. This was his last film, and there’s no better way to honor him, and treat your family, then to go catch this in Balboa Park before walking around for a summer stroll.

5 stars.



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