“Storm Boy” is a new movie based on a 1963 book concerning a boy growing up in a wild section of Western Australia. There was a prior movie also created, so this is a reboot of that prior version. It is a coming-of-age story of a young boy who helps raise some orphaned pelicans back in the 1950’s. The shots of the ocean and the beach and the surrounding wildlife make up a large part of the allure of this movie. Also, the boy meets and befriends an older aboriginal native who is wise in the ways of nature and in the ways of the human heart. The story line moves from the present time back to flashbacks in the 50’s, where the majority of the plot unfolds.
In present day Adelaide (Australia), there is an older man named Michael Kingley (Geoffrey Rush) who is there to vote on a business deal. The deal is for his son (Erik Thomson), who has taken over Michael’s business now that he is retired. But the local folks do not what this deal to go thru, including Michaels’ grand-daughter Maddy (Morgana Davies). The sale of land to a mining company would ruin the land, they all say. The vote gets delayed, and Michael begins to tell Maddy of his childhood – which was near Coorong National Park. That is a home to a large pelican nesting ground.
The young Michael (Finn Little) lived a simple life with his fisherman father, called ‘Hideaway’ Tom (Jai Courtney). They lived in a small shack on the beach, across from the nature preserve. Tow would take his small boat to off shore a ways to fish. He would sell his fish in the ‘big’ city of Adelaide, and he would very often need to extend his credit with the local stores. But they all knew that Tom was good man, even if he did keep to himself. Tom was just not same after his wife and young daughter were killed in a freak auto accident
Michael meets an aboriginal man named Fingerbone Bill (Trevor Jamieson). Bill is very wise in the ways of the land and the ocean and the storms. When Bill meets Michael, a pelican has just been shot by hunters. That means a storm will be coming soon. And it does come, to drench the beach and the town. After that, Bill called Michael “Storm Boy”. The pelican mother that died left three orphan chicks, and Michael tries to raise all three of them. He calls them Mr Proud, Mr Ponder and Mr Percival. These little hatchlings grow until they eat most of the fish that Tom can bring home. So, when they are all grown up – they need to go.
Except that Mr Percival comes back, and he wants the easy life – not to fish for his own food. But there is a day when Tom is out on his little boat in a storm, and he becomes stranded. Michael and Fingerbone Bill find a way to get Mr Percival to fly out to Bill and drop a fishing line. The other end is connected to a stronger rope. Bill pulls the rope to himself, and then Michael and Bill haul him back onto land. The pelican has saved the day! Michael becomes a local hero, and Mr Percival is well known.
Michael grows up to build a huge empire, and now his son controls it. Michael and two of his old friends have enough control over the vote to postpone getting the deal put through. So the mining company will have to wait to tear up the land, or look elsewhere. But there is not much else to say about the plot, and the actual purpose is still unclear. Except that the photography and the visual vistas of the Western Australia are amazing to see. Even at a basic level, this movie is wonderful ad campaign for the tourist bureau in the Land Down-Under.
All the actors do a very reasonable job with the roles they have been given. The story is slow and there is not much in the way of plot movement. Young Michael never has a true antagonist – a person or thing that is against his. At times you think it could be the local hunters. Then you think is might be his father is against him. Then it almost turns into a movie where Nature is against him. But none of these actually follow through with being driving force for Michael.