Review: Chasing Coral

Chasing Coral is a 2017 Sundance Documentary about coral bleaching due to the emission of fossil fuels. This is a film that I expected very little of since I am not one to jump on watching documentaries… until now. No film this year has blown me away like Chasing Coral. At the end of the film, everybody was in tears and leaped to their feet with thunderous applause; I don’t think more than a couple people at most left before the Q & A, which at least a dozen crew members participated in. This is a film about climate change, and how the coral reefs around the would have been killed by global warming due to the emission of fossil fuels. It was a heartbreaking film, but the crowd reaction and the crew being so amazing it what really hit the audience hardest. There really was no experience at Sundance this year that could compare to the one we got with this film.

There are people, including the current “United” “States” “President” who don’t think that problems like this exist, yet the fact that the footage in this film was shot over a timespan of three and a half years does a lot to show you just how much the environment has changed… for the worse. The film states that 22% of the Earth’s entire coral reef population was killed in 2016 alone, and that number grows ever year to depressing new heights. This really makes it seem as though no underwater plant life will make it to the generation following Generation Z, giving that title a whole new perspective meaning. The entire movie was very well organized and paced; as a fictional narrative connoisseur, watching a documentary about climate change was an interesting change, but I was very impressed with the structure and story. There was a clear beginning, middle and end and there was most certainly an arc that these “characters” (people) traveled upon. There was conflict, there was change, there was a catalyst and a debate and the entire movie worked as if it was scripted instead of shot live. Furthermore, all of it led to an ending that blew me away; the payoff was incredible and it concluded in an unforgettable way.


Since this was a documentary feature instead of a dramatic feature, everything felt and was much more real. The people were alive, the stakes were higher, the story was relevant and Jeff Orlowski did a great job in placing us there alongside the biologists, filmmakers, and environmentalists who worked on this film. These people really felt like heroes and the work they’ve done is not only impressive on its own but inspirational so that more people will continue to work as they’ve done. One of the aforementioned qualities of this film was that the stakes felt higher; there was real emotion and real tension in the film because of how passionate the people are who were in it. As an oblivious and ignorant audience member, I had to not only be taught about the situation but persuaded to see their perspective; their POV cannot be denied or argued with which may be a compliment of how persuasive they are but I think it’s just because there was really good filmmaking accompanied with really good science to drive their points home.

Lastly, the film sort of went how I expected it to go, but never did anything that I expected it to if that makes any sense at all. I knew that it would be a film about coral and the environment and that things would go wrong and that we should do something, etc., but the movie was so beautiful in its presentation and there was real passion and talent behind the camera that I never would have expected it to just be so good. Plus, the people interviewed were all lovable and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them recur throughout. Overall, Chasing Coral really is a must see not just because it has important things to say about the world that everybody should hear and appreciate, but it’s just a damn great movie because of how it’s told, shot and presented as a whole. I’m going to give this film a rock solid 10/10 and a golden recommendation! Jeff Orlowski and his team are superheroes and they should be recognized and commended as such, but that’s not all. They partnered with Netflix for the distribution of this film so that it can reach as many people as possible, and that as many people as possible will be inspired to take a stand and make a change. What are you waiting for? As always, thanks for reading, comment your thoughts and I’ll see you soon!


Published by Blake Carson Schwarz

Indiana University graduate in Media and Creative Writing. I love to write my own stories as well as experience the work of others. On this site, I post reviews, essays, and other fun posts that I hope you have as much fun reading and I have writing. Please share any comments you have, I'd be happy to hear what you think! *Never a critic, always a fan*

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: