You may feel like grabbing at the jellyfish that float in front of your eyes -- even though you know in reality that wouldn't be a good idea -- and you may feel a little twinge of disappointment that you can't actually stroke the sleek skins of the sharks and manta rays who drift and twirl and dart so close you are literally looking them in the eye.
But visually, this film, photographed by Gavin McKinney, can't disappoint anyone interested in nature, nor can its message of conservation, which tries to break through the scary concepts media and myth feed us about these huge ocean creatures. It's only in the manner of that message -- designed to appeal to kids -- that the film falters. For some reason, the movie is subtitled "A Close Encounter with The Lions and Tigers of the Ocean" -- a tagline which no doubt would cause much growling and gnashing of teeth in the animal kingdom -- and that rather hammy effort to try to present these sleek underwater beings as something more akin to furry land animals is echoed in the narrative, which is the voice of a cute turtle (provided by Geoffrey Bateman). Flapping along just outside the grasp of any predatory teeth, the turtle chatters on about sharks' lack of real interest in humans as food, their essential value to the balance of nature, and their endangered status. All this is, of course, the point of the movie, which is endorsed by famous second-generation oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society. But somehow it might be better just to watch and fall in love with the beautiful prehistoric creatures moving naturally through their world, accompanied only by Christophe Jacquelin's stirring music, and then read and study the literature provided after the screen goes dark, which happens, alas, far too soon. Narrated by Geoffrey Bateman. Directed by Jean-Jacques Mantello. Produced by Francois Mantello. A 3D Entertainment release. Large-format/3D documentary. Unrated. Running time: 42 min.