The Whale


We’re all aware of and used to the blockbuster knockoffs from The Asylum. Maybe you were reminded this past week by coming across their 2011 movie Almighty Thor while looking up Marvel’s own Thor: The Dark World. Well, they haven’t taken on documentaries yet, but there are comparably cheap versions of hit nonfiction films to be found around the web. We can’t call them all knockoffs or ripoffs or copycats or anything of that responsive nature, though, because most of the time they are produced earlier and are actually the ones being overshadowed by the new, better-known features. Last week I was going through the latest documentary additions to Netflix Watch Instantly, as I regularly do for my home viewing picks for our sister site Nonfics, and one title stood out to me: Wild Eyes: The Abby Sunderland Story. The synopsis told me simply that it was about a teen girl who “dares try to become the youngest person to sail around the globe solo.” That sounded awfully familiar. I’d known about the SXSW audience award winner Maidentrip, which also is about a teen girl who set out to sail around the globe solo. But I didn’t know that film’s subject’s name and thought maybe it was Sunderland. After all, how many teen girls are there who attempt such a dangerous adventure? Apparently at least two, because the girl’s name in Maidentrip, I quickly learned, is Laura Dekker.


Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Silent Night It’s Christmas time in a small town, but instead of holiday cheer the streets are filled with blood. A masked Santa Claus is roaming town, finding those who’ve been naughty and ending their lives in violent and often gory ways. Steven C. Miller‘s remake of the nasty 80s original keeps the violence and mayhem but adds both personality and humor with the result being a fun slasher that vastly improves on Silent Night, Deadly Night. Jaime King brings charm and some serious heroine chops to the proceedings, and she’s joined by Malcolm McDowell, Donal Logue and Ellen Wong. That’s right, the most underrated player in Scott Pilgrim finally got another job! Horror fans will be pleased with and surprised by this early Christmas present, so if you’ve missed its (very brief) theatrical window it’s definitely worth picking up on Blu-ray/DVD.[Extras: Behind the scenes, deleted scenes]


Narrator Ryan Reynolds introduces us to the story of Luna by way of simple metaphor – it was as if he was a child in a grocery store, a child who turned around and found his family missing, no longer in the same aisle, and when he went looking for them, he went down the wrong aisle. In July of 2001, the two year old Orca whale calf appeared in Nootka Sound, a complex inlet on the northern west coast of Vancouver Island, an area that was hundreds of kilometers from the normal grounds of the Southern Resident Killer Whale of which Luna was a part (having been tracked by the scientists that study that community since soon after his birth in 1999). Luna was alone. Orcas do not do well alone. What scientists know about the pod structure that Orcas live in hinges almost totally on one prevailing element – the pod is the most important thing. Orca families stay together forever. Those who study the whales have come to believe that their socialization needs are more profound and more strong than even those of humans. So what was Luna going to do, a veritable toddler alone in a wide stretch of sea? If he was another whale, Luna might have just faded away, but this was Luna, and if The Whale wants us to know one thing, it is this – Luna was special, Luna came to Nootka Sound for a reason, Luna was something different.

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