Another guest reviewer on Zannaland, this time, good ol’ Otisney (aka my husband, Scott). He took Gio to see the screening of Penguins last weekend. As much as I loooove animals of all kinds, Born in China really did me in for nature movies. Sorry Disney! I don’t think I could even get myself together to post a review on that, I was so traumatized. I immediately left the theatre and sponsored a snow leopard, that’s all I remember. Anyway, from what I hear, like Bears, Penguins has no animal deaths to worry about, so I guess I could’ve gone, but I’m glad I played it safe. In any event, here’s a review on the latest Disneynature film, Penguins, released today:
Just in time for Earth Day, Disneynature is releasing its latest in a long line of gorgeous nature films. While previous films examined in beautiful detail the wondrous worlds of big African kitty cats, big Alaskan grizzly bears and exotic Chinese critters (pandas and snow leopards and golden monkeys … OH MY!), this new film checks out the unique world of the Adélie penguins.
As the film begins, we are immediately introduced to our hero penguin, Steve, who is returning to his Antarctic roots to find a mate, build a nest and start a family. In stunning visual splendor, we are given a close-up look of Steve’s daily routines, his struggles (sometimes due to the harsh climate, other times because of sharing very limited space and resources with millions of other penguins), all while trying to elude his natural predators, killer whales and leopard seals.
Despite what you might think would be a monochromatic film (or black and white, as it were), set in the difficult climbs of mega-cold Antarctica, Penguins is such an exquisite and beautifully shot film, where everything looks super sharp and detailed. From the wavy glare of the ice floes that the penguins traverse across, to the extra fluffy powdery down feathers of all the baby penguin chicks, each frame is so incredibly detailed and crisp and bold to look at.
The filmmakers had to go through some extreme weather to shoot one breeding season of these amazing Adélie penguins that return to the exact place of their birth, find a life partner, build a suitable nest, lay, incubate and hatch eggs, and begin to raise baby penguin chicks, fattening them up for their harried march back to the ocean for the winter. The end credits, as always, showcases the amazing photographers and camera men and women and crew that had to endure these tough conditions.
Penguins is suitably narrated by the affable Ed Helms, who also occasionally provides the voices for Steve and others, oftentimes in a very silly way. His is a very familiar and comforting voice and it all feels natural and right.
Of course, as with all Disneynature films, Disney is donating hundreds of thousands of dollars of proceeds from the admissions during the opening week in theaters to a great cause. For every ticket sold opening week (April 17-23, 2019), Disneynature will make a donation to the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) to help protect penguins across the southern hemisphere with opening weekend profits going to support Earth Day charities.
At 76 minutes, Penguins is long enough to be extremely compelling and make you invested in the lovable characters on screen, but short enough to not become boring or just drone on endlessly.
It’s definitely a film that is okay to take the littlest of your family members to enjoy. There is a small amount of ensuing peril, but nothing too bad and mostly off screen. I can assure you, there is a happy ending for our hero Steve and his entire family.
Disneynature Penguins gets four cold, crisp, icy stars from this reviewer.