March of the Penguins

#45 in my movie challenge for the year was a big disappointment. It is a rare occasion that I get out to see a movie in the theater. The movie I really wanted to see, Hustle and Flow, was showing in just a few theaters and at inconvenient times. March of the Penguins, though, was showing at the close theater with good popcorn at a convenient time, so even though it wasn’t high on my list, I decided to give it a shot. While beautifully filmed under difficult conditions, the story, which is meant to be shocking, actually rather bored me. Yes, the penguins were awfully cute, but more than once it glossed over penguin death. Once they said that penguins who lag behind just “fade away” and later they say that a penguin father who does not survive the storm will just “disappear.” Buried under snow? Eaten by other penguins? Picked off by predators? The movie doesn’t say. There are times that the movie does show some of the more difficult moments, as when a mother penguin gets eaten by a seal, a penguin couple loses their egg, and baby pengins get attacked by a gull. But the movie can’t seem to decide how real it should get. Even these potentially disturbing scenes were primly edited. Ultimately, I wanted to know about the exceptions: what happens to the penguins who don’t conceive, whose mother’s don’t come back, the mothers who come back to find a dead father or baby, how many survive, how many die? March of the Penguins was lovely to look at and did have an interesting story. But the story, no matter how skillfully narrated by Morgan Freeman, did not delve in complexity or sophistication beyond the level of basic television. There were two other true animal movies out this summer, and I think my time and money would have been better spent on either The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill or Grizzly Man.

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