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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Waterlife DVD Review

Waterlife - A Mongrel Media Release


On DVD: August 25th, 2009

Rated G

Running time: 109 minutes

Kevin McMahon (dir.)

Narrated by Gord Downie

Our reviews below:


Waterlife DVD Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

Waterlife is a documentary about the 5 great lakes and how they are all connected and flow into each other. It’s a mildly interesting documentary, but there are just too many negatives and not enough positives. And at 109 minutes, it goes on far too long. Everything the film touches on is very valid, but it’s hard to retain that much information, because there’s just so much stuff all thrown together.

Some of the images in Waterlife are beautiful, but there isn’t enough focus on them. The images of people splashing water on themselves in slow motion just seemed self-indulgent, and they go on for far too long. As do the scenes of animated floating molecules. The technical stuff at the water filtration plants is interesting, but there’s just too much of it.

The DVD includes the theatrical trailer for Waterlife, and the wonderful NFB short film Paddle to the Sea. The 28-minute short is what really makes the disc worth checking out.


Waterlife DVD Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Waterlife is a documentary about the last great supply of freshwater in the world - the Great Lakes. This film opens with a shot of water in the St. Lawrence river, where a Beluga whale is swimming. The narration by Gord Downie informs us that these great big whales are dieing from cancer, caused by pollutants that have travelled through the water system. In order to find out where they are coming from, we go all the way back through the system to start in Lake Superior, the biggest of the Great Lakes.

From Lake Superior, where the water is still fairly clear, we go next to Lake Michigan, the only Great Lake owned wholly by the USA. At each lake, we stop at factories and small towns along the way, and see where more and more pollutants are added to the once fresh water. On to Lake Huron and Lake Erie, the film continues in it’s same pattern of interviews with the people who live by the lake, and looks at the factory towns. Last, we are shown Lake Ontario. Now, living literally right by Lake Ontario I wanted to see what was said about this lake. Unfortunately, the film which had already gone on a bit too long practically just gave Lake Ontario a few minutes as an afterthought.

While parts of this documentary are certainly interesting, more time is spent on how we have messed up the water system then how we can fix it. Also, the use of slow motion images of people playing in water seems to become excessive by the end. I did like a lot of the underwater shots, and seeing all whales and fish in the water though. One fun scene in the film was when they were releasing captive fish into the lake via a big reverse vacuum tube. It was quite strange to watch, especially since I was unsure what they were doing at first...

Overall, I would recommend Waterlife to check out, although it follows the kind of bland documentary format that is overused nowadays. Maybe a bit too long, but interesting nonetheless. An added bonus is that the disc includes the wonderful short film Paddle to the Sea. I find the disc worth it even just for that feature alone.


Waterlife DVD Review By Nicole

**3/4 (out of 4)

Waterlife is an average documentary about the Great Lakes. The documentary begins by showing a beautiful shot of beluga whales in the St. Lawrence River. We then see a man shoot at them with a dart gun to harmlessly take blubber samples. We then are told that a lot of these sensitive creatures are dying of cancer.

We then are brought throughout the Great Lakes, starting at Lake Superior, then heading down into the rest of the Great Lakes. We find out where the various pollutants in the Great Lakes come from, and how they affect each one of us.

We see some fun things, such as seeing live fish being stocked into a lake through a series of tubes, as a Ministry of Natural Resources official scares away the gulls with paint balls. We also meet an Aboriginal woman, who, to raise awareness of the plight of the Great Lakes, carries a bucket of Lake Superior’s water around all the Great Lakes.

Some of the scenes, such as closeups of sewage, or of (dead) fish being cleaned, are not for those who are squeamish.

While a lot of this film is good, it is too slow moving, too technical, and too negative at times to keep engaged. I would have liked to see more of the beauty of the Great Lakes, as well as ways to help the Great Lakes recover. I also would have liked to have seen more of the Canadian side, in particular Lake Ontario, which I can see from my house.

The only bonus feature on this DVD is the excellent NFB short film Paddle to the Sea. Based on the children’s book by Holling C. Holling, this story of a toy canoe that travels from Lake Superior to the Atlantic Ocean is a NFB children’s classic.

Waterlife is worth renting or buying, particularly for Paddle to the Sea.


Waterlife DVD Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

"Waterlife" is an impassioned look at the five Great Lakes and the danger they are in as a result of mankind’s neglect.

There’s a lot of beautiful imagery in this documentary that gives the viewer the sense the Great Lakes are worth protecting. The documentary would have been more compelling had there been more of the underwater and on land footage.

With so much time spent on slow-motion, lingering shots of children playing in sprinklers, people bathing, and close-ups of water drops, it felt like there were two different documentaries happening in the same film. I would have preferred the focus remain on the nature aspect.

This isn’t a bad documentary, just a little too long and distracted at times. I enjoyed the scenery, liked the interviews with aboriginal people and found the music really nice to listen to.

If seeing "Waterlife" makes people think more about protecting the Great Lakes then that’s a good thing. The fact that this DVD includes the classic NFB tale about a little canoe’s travels through the Great Lakes “Paddle to the Sea’ makes it worth checking out.


Waterlife DVD Review By Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

Review Coming Soon!


Consensus: **2/3 (Out of 4)

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