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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 34.95%
Just Average: 8.74%
Pretty Crappy: 7.77%
Sucks: 10.68%

9 reviews, 49 user ratings

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March of the Penguins
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by EricDSnider

"Even more interesting than the penguins in 'Madagascar'"
4 stars

Consider the emperor penguin. Go ahead, I'll wait. Turns out the tuxedoed waiters in "Mary Poppins" weren't far off from nature. Real penguins look alike, goof around with each other, and are oddly human in their movements and mannerisms. The word "waddle," if not coined specifically to describe the way penguins walk, certainly describes them better than it describes anything else.

This is good news for "March of the Penguins," a rather straightforward documentary that tells us, in simple terms, what penguins do. They spend several months in the ocean near Antarctica eating and playing, then return in the winter to their breeding grounds. There they pair up, mate, and produce an egg, whereupon the mother heads back to the ocean to eat -- she's famished by now -- while the father cares for the egg. When it hatches, Dad hopes Mom shows up with food for Junior before cold and hunger claim them both. Then Dad goes back to the ocean to eat while Mom tends the kid, and, once Junior is old enough, he or she and Mom head for the ocean, too, to reunite with Dad and be a family. And the circle of life continues.

And yet it is so much more dramatic and fascinating than that! There are pitfalls at every turn. While Mom is in the ocean replenishing her strength to return to Dad and the newborn, she could be eaten by a leopard seal. While trekking back to the breeding grounds, she could be waylaid and not return in time to save the baby from starvation. Heck, even transferring the egg from its perch on top of Mom's feet (protected by the warmth of her underbelly) to the same location on Dad is fraught with peril: Penguins don't have hands to assist them in the process, remember. If the egg rolls away, they have about five seconds to retrieve it before the bitter, sub-zero cold kills it.

Of course, it would all be much simpler if the penguins' breeding grounds weren't 70 miles from the ocean. Morgan Freeman, in his kindly, authoritative narration, doesn't tell us how long it takes a hungry penguin to waddle 70 miles over ice and snow, but it must be weeks, and everyone makes the round trip twice a year. As someone interested in efficiency, this process baffles me. Who is leading these penguins? Why doesn't he propose reforms? Is there an evolutionary hand at work, intentionally making the breeding process absurdly perilous to prevent the continent from being overrun with more live penguins than it can sustain?

What "March of the Penguins" does is present all of this in basic terms that will hold the attention of anyone with even a mild love for animals. The fact that filmmaker Luc Jacquet got himself and his crew to Antarctica during the winter -- when the temperature can be nearly 100 degrees below zero -- is impressive enough. Then witness the mournful cries of a mother whose chick has been claimed by the elements, the sweet, picturesque sight of a mother, father and baby standing as a family, the comedy of penguins slipping on the ice and knocking each other over -- it's all here. Except for the part where sometimes leopard seals eat them, penguins are just like you and me.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11299&reviewer=247
originally posted: 06/24/05 03:08:11
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Atlanta Film Festival For more in the 2005 Atlanta Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/15/14 Peter M Great subject turned into sentimental nonsense. Three times over length 3 stars
3/22/10 John Wow! Talk about a grouchy review. For unemotional info, get a textbook, not a film. 5 stars
11/08/09 joel try's to make penguins look like humans 1 stars
5/21/09 Luis Alvarez Really boring. I ended up making fun of of the penguins "sadness." 1 stars
1/12/09 Anonymous. i learned alot about penguins watching this. 4 stars
1/21/08 deborah mclean ditto on what brian said 5 stars
6/18/07 Jessiika I really like it and thought it was great :D Penguins are cute hahaha 4 stars
5/22/07 isha boring more exciting please 1 stars
1/12/07 David Pollastrini they're cuuuuuute! 5 stars
12/06/06 chienne I work in Mental Health. Enough said. 4 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist An overrated mushfest,I dont understand why so many people adore it. 1 stars
7/28/06 David Cohen A brilliant antidote for the Disney "nature loves everyone" mentality 5 stars
6/30/06 Gerry Irons Amazing Filming-but thought it sensationalized penguins deaths-penguins die allot we get it 2 stars
6/12/06 millersxing Jacquet brings the penguins; Freeman brings the gravitas--and that's documentary gold. 4 stars
6/07/06 Peggy Doty INTERESTING 5 stars
6/03/06 michael Not just a kids movie either 4 stars
6/02/06 San Lamar i liked it 5 stars
5/26/06 lasharee davis It was very interresting 5 stars
4/29/06 Sheila Spectacular 5 stars
3/02/06 Tanya Beautiful, yet touching, I enjoyed it. great documentary 5 stars
2/24/06 PAG Overrated. Somewhat interesting, but no more than the average Discovery Channel doc. 3 stars
2/20/06 Anne Gallick I never suspected that the live of a penguin was so miserable. This movie is a cryfest. 3 stars
12/19/05 Martin I liked the penguins. 4 stars
12/10/05 Phil M. Aficionado Fascinating in all respects, and an astounding undertaking to film it. Beautiful too. 5 stars
10/19/05 Agent Sands Your obligated to see this if you're an animal lover like me. 4 stars
10/09/05 Jenny Chen A marverous movie 5 stars
9/09/05 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne ALMOST made me forget that Morgan Freeman twice co-starred with Trashley Dudd! 5 stars
9/08/05 John great story in eth tradition of the old Disney Nature documentaries 4 stars
9/04/05 Daryl Walker This is an adorable and fascinating documentary. 4 stars
8/27/05 jenjenmarie absolutely amazing. a true documentary that anyone can enjoy 5 stars
8/27/05 DM The kind of movie where you keep asking, "How did they get that footage?" 4 stars
8/24/05 Smitty Absolutely beautiful, see it in a theater, not on video, but a real bore-ass of a movie. 2 stars
8/24/05 Tom Benton As far as documentaries go, "March of the Penguins" is wonderful. 5 stars
8/22/05 chris. nothing i didn't know before, but i'm a nerd. i'm glad this gives a large audience a look 5 stars
8/20/05 flipst0oge it was so 1 stars
8/17/05 Ilana Sprongl Wonderful film about that most amaizing creature, the penguin. 5 stars
8/14/05 Mark This was the best nature documentary i have ever seen 5 stars
7/30/05 clinger26 You've got to see this documentary 5 stars
7/25/05 rachel fascinating! fabulous! intriguing! 5 stars
7/23/05 R.W. Welch Penguins outwit world's harshest environment. Nicely filmed and written. 4 stars
7/23/05 ajay wonderful story. everyone, yes EVERYONE should see this. 5 stars
7/22/05 Kristina Williams If only humans were so dedicated....... 5 stars
7/14/05 Jan K. A long way to walk with such short legs! 5 stars
7/13/05 Bill Joyner Outstanding Movie for everyone around the World. 5 stars
7/04/05 Brian Strilesky Eventually, as word travels, nearly everyone will end up seeing this amazing film. 5 stars
7/04/05 Ken Incredible movie. 5 stars
3/23/05 Rebekah Johnson Fabulous film! I loved it! Amazing footage and narration. 5 stars
1/26/05 lex Gidley Loved It!!! If it comes to America, it won't be a hit, but it is very entertaining. 5 stars
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  24-Jun-2005 (G)
  DVD: 29-Nov-2005



[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Luc Jacquet

Written by
  Luc Jacquet
  Michel Fessler

  Morgan Freeman

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