Animal films have done quite well at the box office in recent years. Who can forget the astounding appeal of March Of The Penguins. With wonderful cinematography and the commanding narration of Morgan Freeman, the film took the box office by storm. There have been countless efforts to reproduce those results ever since. The latest of these to hit Blu-ray is the indoctrination piece, Arctic Tale. I say indoctrination because this movie is never content with following the natural migration or struggles of the animals it depicts. Instead the film uses contrived dangers that were staged, for the most part, to drive home the “undisputed” message that mankind is destroying the frozen habitat that these animals rely on for their existence. Whatever your politics, or opinions on global warming, there is still plenty of evidence to support the opposing position. With that said, it’s a little too early to use children and furry animals to attempt to present the theory as established fact to our children. The film attempts to work on the young folks’ emotions as we witness man induced pain, struggle, and even death on the polar bear and walrus populations. The film is even somewhat femalecentric. The female animals get names. The male animals are referred to merely as “the little brother” or “male polar bear”. It’s a slanted piece of propaganda, that doesn’t even break any new ground. Some of the footage is repeated in the similar release, A Polar Bear Adventure.
There is some remarkable footage here, in addition to the standard stock elements. It’s pretty obvious that many polar bears are photographed as the “family” we are supposed to be following. The work is the result of a husband and wife team who have made it their life’s work to study and capture these animals on film. The work is often good, and some of the footage is truly stunning. It’s a shame they decided to taint their remarkable efforts with so much posturing and bias. Queen Latifah provides the narration. She tries too hard to be sweet and dramatic in a “once upon a time” manner that she fails to truly inspire the way Freeman did with his narration. This approach further illustrates that the target audience here really is our children. There are better animal shows out there, which provide just as wonderful photography without the political spin. Even Animal Planet has provided some very memorable programs in recent years. There are really just too many comparable choices out there; many of them cost you only the cable bill you’re already paying. Let your children get their values and political beliefs from you, not from their movies. During the credits, children tell you how your actions are killing the cute Arctic animals. Just what I’d want my kid to think. “Daddy, why are we killing polar bears with out SUV?”
Arctic Tale is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The picture is full 1080p arrived at through a solid AVC/MPEG-4 codec. There’s not a lot of color or contrast to truly show off the high definition image, but this is the Arctic, after all. You do get a mixed bag. Some of the stock shots are overloaded with grain and dirt, while the new material arrives in pristine and bright condition. With all of the time the team spent gathering the material, I have to wonder if the use of stock was even necessary at all.
The Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 track is here for dialog and nothing more. It does its job well.
Making Of Arctic Tale: (24:07) (SD) The piece focuses on the husband and wife team and their years of excursions to the Arctic to get the footage.
Are We There Yet: (7:03) (SD) Taking kids on a Canadian Polar Bear sightseeing field trip.
I generally like nature shows. The talking or story created versions are a relatively new genre, and some are quite good. I find that generally when taken as a whole series it tends to get tedious, so I rather gravitate to these one off films. Unfortunately I don’t wish to be preached at. Who really enjoys being scolded for entertainment? If I want that, I’ll go to a Rodney Dangerfield performance. I don’t need polar bears scolding me. My advice on this film? I’m “holding out for something special”.