5th November (UK Blu-Ray Release)
A young penguin, driven by his instinct, embarks on his first major trip to an unknown destination.
Morgan Freeman (Narrator)
It’s been ten years since French film maker Luc Jacquet brought back a glimpse of the Antarctic and the penguins who inhabit it with his documentary, March of the Penguins. Now, he’s gone back to one of the coldest places on earth with the latest 4K cameras and drones to capture the birds like you’ve never seen them before.
Less of a sequel and more of a catch up with an old friend who tells you the same story that’s worth hearing twice, March of the Penguins 2 does admittedly retread a lot of the same ground covered in its predecessor. We see the tough conditions that the penguins have to endure and the methods they employ for their survival. This time though, there’s a little more focus on the penguin chicks. From their creation through to their first steps alone, March of the Penguins 2 chronicles their journey into the harsh, icy wilderness that they will eventually call home.
Morgan Freeman’s soft and soothing omniscient voice makes a welcome return too, guiding us through the action. If the images on screen make you feel cold, don’t worry. Freeman’s narration is akin to a glass of whiskey by a roaring fire in a log cabin while the snow falls outside. Sometimes he even joins in, commenting on the events as if he was sitting next to you. Thankfully, Jacquet leaves most of the talking to the penguin’s movements and has wisely opted to not include human voices for the Penguins – something which the first March of the Penguins would have benefited from doing also.
The upgrade to 4K cameras is a noticeable improvement visually and a mightily impressive underwater sequence highlights just how much technology has evolved in a relatively short space of time. No doubt for March of the Penguins 3 in a decades time, Jacquet will put us in the little feet of the birds through the power of Virtual Reality, but for now this beautifully detailed insight into their world is more than adequate. Indeed, the vast landscapes of the Antarctic are stunning to look at, but apart from the odd warning from Freeman that climate change is affecting the land, Jacquet only skims the cracked surface on what could be done to save the environment.
It’s a disappointing missed opportunity for awareness to be raised, but March of the Penguins 2 also feels like it takes an even softer approach to its subject matter than the first. There’s a few occasions of mild peril for the young birds, but Jacquet is careful not to let them last too long in fear of upsetting its younger viewers. Adding in stern warnings about melting ice caps would only cause more distress to the children watching at home.
Instead, there are endless shots of frolicking penguins and humerous sequences showing the mischievous antics of the Adelie penguin species.
Which, in all honesty, was all I was hoping for anyway.
Visually stunning with with latest 4K cameras
Hollywood-style narrative of nature's events
Morgan Freeman's soothing narration
Missed opportunity to raise Climate Change awareness