March of the Penguins
Best use of Penguin since Batman Returns.
Indisputably, penguins rock. Not as much as monkeys obviously, but almost. I mean, if you were to do a chart of 'Best Animals Ever' it'd look like,
1 > Monkeys
2 > Penguins
3 > I dunno, Horses, maybe Crocodiles
4=> Everything Else
Given that, of all the types of penguin available the Emperor penguin rocks hardest, this French documentary (La Marche de l'Empereur, ahaw-he-haw) on Emperor penguins seemingly cannot fail to rock. And indeed, it does not. March of the Penguins rocks.
Now, that's probably not the cleverest bunch of words I've ever thrown together, but it's probably everything you need to know about this film in particular. Assuming you've picked up on at least a fraction of the glowing press reports from its recent stateside run you'll know it's a penguin documentary, so if you've even a passing interest in nature documentaries this is a rare treat.
The equally pleasing Deep Blue was the last time, to my recollection, that something of this ilk appeared on U.K. cinema screens, and just as that benefited greatly from the larger format so does March of the Penguins. The beautiful harshness of the penguin's Antarctic habitat has never been captured so stunningly as we follow the Emperor's trek across seventy odd miles of ice sheets to their breeding ground and months of patient egg-tending while winter does it's damndest to polish them off.
It's a very pretty film to watch, in a slightly desolate way, and there's a very decent narration from Morgan Freeman to add a bit of spice to things. A little too much spice, to be honest, as it can't resist heading down the sickeningly cutesy, You've Been Framed-esque footage of 'Thing Falls Over', although it thankfully can't use the other You've Been Framed clip of 'Thing Falls Off Other Thing'. 98% of all camcorder clip shows are based on these two clips.
The script can't resist over-anthropomorphisation, with Freeman gravely telling us that this or that particular penguin is upset, angry, ambivalent, petulant or so forth. It'd be patronising enough were he talking about humans, but c'mon. They're penguins. They don't rock so much I'm going to accept ascribing human emotions to them.
None of the preceding points are of the slightest significance, I mention them only to pad out what would otherwise be an embarrassingly short writeup. We're all about the padding. Anyway, March of the Penguins is often astonishingly lovely to look at and never less than interesting to watch. It's certainly the best penguin based entertainment available in a cinema this year, and we can only express our hearty congratulations to Luc Jacquet and his team for producing such fine results while filming in near enough the least hospitable environment on earth.
Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 4/5 TippyMarks.
Scarlett Johansson (Acrobatic Penguin)
William Shatner (Disgruntled Penguin)