Movie review: ‘Turtle: The Incredible Journey’

A solitary long-distance traveler with prehistoric cachet, the loggerhead turtle makes a compelling subject for a nature film, as the spectacularly shot, aptly named “Turtle: The Incredible Journey” demonstrates, if at times too feverishly.

Director Nick Stringer has availed himself of up-to-the-minute technology and old-school storytelling -- the kind with just a touch of anthropomorphizing but, mercifully, no character names -- to capture the arc of the marine reptile’s first 25 years. It’s a migration from Florida to the North Atlantic, Africa, the Caribbean and back to the place of birth to lay eggs. The film is fact-packed and kid-friendly yet filled with danger; only one in 10,000 turtles completes that round trip.

The peril begins the moment the sand-encrusted hatchlings emerge, soft-shelled and toothless, to make their vulnerable scuttle to the sea. Via miniature high-def cameras, the documentary captures their race against predatory crabs with extraordinary immediacy. For the rest of the trip, Stringer creates a composite portrait, seamlessly supplementing his in-the-wild footage with digital effects and studio scenes using rescued turtles.


Attempting to amplify the drama but instead calling attention to themselves are an unyielding score and narration that tints toward purple, delivered with mellifluous authority by Miranda Richardson. Yet the film’s conservation pitches are subdued; this is no galvanizing doc like “The Cove.”

Charting the peregrinations of one of Earth’s elders -- a creature that has navigated the seas for 200 million years, and is now endangered -- “Incredible Journey” makes some missteps, but never falters in showing that the loggerhead’s survival matters.

“Turtle: The Incredible Journey.” MPAA rating: G. Running time: 1 hour, 17 minutes. In limited release.