But when its camera is above the surface and filming the humans, "Coral Reef Adventure" starts to suffer. The filmmakers shove in lame, staged shots of the crew working out coordinates, preparing nets, et cetera, making for some awkward transitions. And an even bigger problem is that the movie just doesn't know when to shut up. Silly sound effects are needlessly added in many scenes. They might make the littlest kids laugh, but overall they cheapen what are otherwise majestic glimpses of sea creatures behaving in their natural environment. The music, largely consisting of bombastic, “Lion King”-ish remixes of some classic Crosby, Stills & Nash songs, has a cloying, world-beat slant more appropriate for an episode of “Survivor” than for a tranquil undersea adventure.
As beautiful as it often is to watch, "Coral Reef Adventure" ultimately comes off as a bit too kid-friendly and faux-inspirational, which is kind of a drag. There's nothing wrong with trying to get the youngsters curious about our ever-threatened environment, but don't do so at the expense of the grown-ups. After all, we're the ones buying the tickets. Narrated by Liam Neeson. Directed by Greg MacGillivray. Written by Osha Gray Davidson and Stephen Judson. Produced by Greg MacGillivray and Alec Lorimore. A MacGillivray Freeman release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time:46 min