(2021) Nature Documentary (Netflix) Rose Byrne (narrator). Directed by Nick Robinson
A fabulous nature documentary kind of slipped out under the radar when it debuted in December on Netflix. Puff: Wonders of the Reef shows a world we rarely are privileged to glimpse – the micro-ecology of the Great Barrier Reef.
While we are normally shown the macro denizens of the reef, there is another world which is smaller than the human eye can generally see. We are introduced to sharp-nosed puffer fish Puff (they might have used a more imaginative name) who was recently born in the teeming incubator of life known as the Great Barrier Reef, just off the shore of Australia.
Thanks to cinematographer Pete West, we go into that world and meet strange and beautiful creatures like the porcelain crab. It is somewhat ironic that the Reef, one of the world’s largest organisms, has such a tiny world imbedded in it. It’s a beautiful world, too but make no mistake – that beauty hides some creatures that are deadly. Puff, with virtually no experience and nobody to guide him (I assume it’s a him) must navigate (literally) these dangerous waters and find himself a safe haven with which to survive and, eventually, spawn some babies of his own.
While this is suitable for the entire family, some of the creatures – which, you must remember, are smaller than the human eye can see – can be terrifying when blown up to extra extra plus size on the average large-screen television set, so be aware of that when plopping the kids down and using Netflix as a sitter for an hour.
Like most nature documentaries these days, the movie makes sure to underline the importance of conservation and the growing threat of global climate change (stark images of coral bleached and dead ram that message home). Those of a certain political leaning may find the message repetitious and unwelcome.
It’s a shame that more people don’t know about this documentary, because it’s absolutely amazing and breathtaking. I guarantee that unless you’re already a marine biologist specializing in the micro-ecology of the Great Barrier Reef, you will learn something new. You will also see creatures that have been rarely (and in some cases, never) photographed. And, at only an hour in length, it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
REASONS TO SEE: The cinematography is breathtaking and magical. Very informative regarding a world most of us know little (if anything) about.
REASONS TO AVOID: A little slow in places.
FAMILY VALUES: Suitable for all audiences.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT:A t two months old, Puff was roughly the size of a human fingernail.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 2/23/21: Rotten Tomatoes: No score yet; Metacritic: No score yet.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Netflix
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Wonders of the Sea
FINAL RATING: 7.5/10
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