Studio: Paramount Home Video
Cast: Queen Latifah
Director: Adam Ravetch & Sarah Robertson
Release Date: April 16, 2009, 9:15 pm
Rating: G for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:26m:04s
ìWhat seems forbidding to us is home to them." - Narrator (Queen Latifah)
Movie Grade: C-
DVD Grade: B
If MARCH OF THE PENGUINS was the perfect marriage of family film and documentary, then ARCTIC TALE is its distant cousin. This 2007 attempt at pulling off what the box office smash that was PENGUINS did in 2005 doesnít really even come close to doing just that. However, Paramountís new Blu-ray release does feature plenty of high-definition images of cute animals wandering around frigid arctic landscapes. Still, how far can ìcuteî carry even a family film?
The answer is ìnot very far,î unfortunately. After the initial HD-driven visual awe wears off a mere 10 minutes into the film, weíre left with a boring documentary about a polar bear cub and young walrus. Sure, filmmakers Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson had good intentions, but their ìstoryî is a clear-cut case of audience manipulation for the sake of sappy cuteness. I know, I know, this is a ìfamily filmî so some of this fluff isnít exactly surprising, but a little bit of it goes a long way. Itís fabricated enough that these essentially wild animals are given names like Nanu and Seela, but the filmís narrator actually goes on to tell us what they are feeling and thinking as they try to survive the elements of their natural habitat. I havenít even mentioned yet that our narrator is none other than Queen Latifah.
Iíll save my Queen Latifah rant for another movie, as sheís simply reading a ìscriptî in a recording studio somewhere. The filmís major flaw is in the sheer lack of excitement that its snail-slow pacing results in. Not only was I looking at my watch repeatedly during the film, but my five-year-old (whoís probably in the age range of the target audience) was asking when the next episode of DORA THE EXPLORER was on. Ok, so there were some funny bits involving wacky animal antics, but even those were eventually forgotten than to the filmmakersí deeming it necessary to preach about the environment and, more specifically, global warming. Sure, these are definite problems in our world that need to be discussed, but does my little girl need to be hit with them when sheís supposed to be focused on what that cute, fuzzy bear is going to do next?
Despite the failure of the film itself, at least Paramount has come through with a technically impressive effort that is similar to their earlier HD-DVD release. The audio and video arenít the best that Blu-ray has to offer, but if youíre going to sit through a slow documentary, Blu-ray is the way to do it. The extras are ported over from the HD-DVD disc as well, but if you still want to check those out after the movie, more power to you.
Chuck Aliaga April 16, 2009, 9:15 pm