Disneynature's all-new feature film "Penguins" is a coming-of-age story about an Adélie penguin named Steve who joins millions of fellow males in the icy Antarctic spring on a quest to build a suitable nest, find a life partner and start a family. None of it comes easily for him, especially considering he's targeted by everything from killer whales to leopard seals, who unapologetically threaten his happily ever after. From the filmmaking team behind "Bears" and "Chimpanzee," Disneynature's "Penguins" opens in theaters nationwide in time for Earth Day 2019.
Nature documentaries have been made famous on the likes of public television, but Disney was ready to one-up the game by bringing their magic to the big screen. With stunning effects and a budget to uncover the secrets of the natural world, Disney Nature was born. Ten years later, the subsection of the empire is back with another film, ready to bring the chills and thrills of the frozen wasteland few choose to trek. Robbie K is back with yet another review as he takes a look at:
Alastair Fothergill, Jeff Wilson
Voice over adding a punch
SUMMARY: In a documentary, it's all about finding a way to capture the natural energy in the best perspective. Penguins has a dynamic camera work going for it, utilizing some fantastic technology to capture the feelings and magic involved with the penguin ritual of mating. The adorable star of Steve has pizazz and character, which helps bring the fun to this documentary. You grow attached to the little guy, feeling a sense of happiness radiate out of his squat body, that not only is thanks to the charm of the penguins, but also the wonderful editing of the footage the team obtained. While much of the movie holds that fun atmosphere, the dangers of the artic wilderness are still displayed as both natural phenomena and predators debut on film. Those darker, sadder moments are fortunately censored, so you won't have to avert your eyes too much for this film. Yet, if a documentary doesn't quite stand out to you, Penguins gets a nice touch from others by utilizing its voice actor Ed Helms to give a little pizazz to the artic explorer of Steve. His voice over montage acting as Steve's thoughts are entertaining at times, sort of filling in the silence with an approach that further added to fun of the movie. And yes, utilization of a fun music set brought more fun in the form of well-timed mood music to help add to the adventure.
Not Quite As Detailed as Others
Occasional annoying Commentary
Not much can be said in terms of dislikes of this movie, but there are a few limitations for this reviewer. For one thing it is short! While this can be a good thing, I think I wanted to see more of the ritual and lifestyle unfolding given the price of admission. Penguins fast pace will be great for modern attention spans, but for those that become engrossed into the movie, the abrupt stop will leave you wanting a little more bang for your buck. Much of this I think has to do with how they limited the world they were focusing on with this film. Other films in the Disney nature arsenal expanded to three families, colorful worlds, and more detailed behaviors that spanned a greater time period. In this case, the shorter focus may have been the reason for the fast pace given the limited content they wanted to focus on. Had they perhaps studied the patterns of some other artic creatures, this film could have been a little more of the adventure fans are used to. Finally, while I did enjoy the comedy provided by Helms commentary, there are times where they got a little overdone, but these are few and far between.
Penguins is a fun adventure that serves as a good educational launch pad for those curious about the world around them. The adventure of Steve is a short trip into the artic, but it's a surprisingly fun one where joy, happiness, and a few other quirks exist to thaw the frozen atmosphere. Utilizing some solid comedic tricks, a captivating voice work and beautiful footage, the movie does a great job of keeping it appropriate for it's intended audience. However, this movie does still suffer from a few details that are missing and not expanding its horizons into the tundra like some of their other films have done and that may be the biggest limitation. This documentary is magical, but the fact that it's not quite the big budget blockbuster that we get shoved into our faces may also limits it's theater worthiness in the modern age. Still, yours truly would encourage catching it sometime, particularly with the little ones in tow.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 6.0
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