As a long-time fan of all David Attenborough programmes, I can pinpoint exactly when my love of penguins began – Attenborough’s BBC series Life in the Freezer. There was a shot of a group of penguins leaping out of the Antartic water and onto the ice. I was enchanted by them, and fascinated by all that the programme, and the series as a whole, had to offer.
Attenborough + BBC = Quality. Fact.
So I was disappointed with March of the Penguins two years ago. I loved that there was so much penguin cuteness on show, but to win the Oscar for Best Documentary?! No, no. It taught us very, very little. School children should be shown three episodes of Life in the Freezer instead. The penguins are just as cute, and they’d actually learn something too.
Bearing all this in mind, it’s almost difficult to put into words the revulsion and lack of respect that I have for Paramount’s upcoming Arctic Tale. And this is just the trailer for it – I’m having to mentally prepare and strengthen my resolve for sitting through the entire thing. If March of the Penguins relied too much on anthropomorphism and nicely framed shots of cute penguins rather than providing insight, education and, dare I say it, a documentary, then Artic Tale makes it look like a dull, dry, fact-riddled university lecture in comparison.
While the voiceover provided by Morgan Freeman in March… might have appeared like a populist move, at least his deep, wise tones provided a degree of gravitas. So who do they have for Arctic Tale?
No, wait, allow me to correct that….”story-teller” Queen Latifah.
Well, if doing VO for this makes her a story-teller, then this blog makes me a bloody philosopher.
This is a National Geographic picture too, but don’t be fooled. The actual film footage might be impressive (there is a very nice shot in the trailer from under the ice as a polar bear walks over it), but its potential is wasted with narration such as “Nanu’s ready to play anytime, but when your mother is a polar bear and she calls you . . . you best be going”
I can only assume that we’re meant to imagine that Nanu joshes with the other polar cubs, with killer lines such as “Yo mama’s so fat, she hibernate ALL year round.”
And what of Seela, the walrus cub? Well, her life seems to consist of mainly growing tusks (which naturally means “the boys are taking notice”) and eating and farting – “after three days of feasting on clams, someone starts a game of pull my flipper…”
It was at this point that my teeth started to grind. When a “documentary” has, as one of its key words in IMDb, the phrase “fart scene”, you know exactly what level the film is pitched at.
With its pseudo-epic pretensions (there is a “remote and ancient kingdom”), its soft rock soundtrack and its glib representation of animal life, thoughts of Arctic Tale are leaving me cold.