User ReviewsReview this title
Had it been PG, I wouldn't have been so surprised by the mild, yet realistic peril. Smart, empathetic kids recognize existential dread.
Couple of comments: this movie is directed by Disneynature veteran Alastair Fothergill ("African Cats", "Bears") and Jeff Wilson. When I heard of this release, my initial reaction was "haven't we seen this before in the Oscar-winning documentary March of the Penguins?". Turns out that concern is unjustified. "March of the Penguins" looks at the much larger emperor penguin, whereas this documentary follows the Adelie pengiun. There is a funny scene in the beginning where Steve accidentally ends up in a colony of emperor penguins and he gets slapped around... by baby emperor penguins (who are still larger than Steve). Once that was cleared up, the only thing that mattered to me was to see how spectacular the footage was, and there I was not disappointed. In fact, the footage is outstanding, and on top of that the film makers lucked out (if that is the right wording--probably they persisted and were rewarded) with some amazing plot twists--I really don't want to say anything more so as not to spoil). Just watch!
"Penguins" opened in theaters a few weeks ago, and I finally got around to seeing it this weekend, yes the same weekend where "Avengers Endgame" came out and dominated the box office (more than 90% of the weekend's business--but I have no interest in seeing it). The Sunday early evening screening where I saw "Penguins" was attended so-so--about 10-12 people, mostly adults I might add. If you love nature documentaries, you cannot go wrong with this. Of course I encourage you to check it out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
Overall though, great footage, I wish it wasn't so short. :)
Directors: Alastair Fothergill, Jeff Wilson Writer: David Fowler Star: Ed Helms
Beautiful Cinematography Adorable Star Joyful Energy Good Censorship Voice over adding a punch Musical overture
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.
DISLIKES: Short 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:
Documentary: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.0