BluRay Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
    BLURAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)

    Queen Latifah as NARRATOR

    Rated G
    Studio: Paramount Classics

    Directed by: Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson

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In the frozen world of the Arctic, two very different animal families are struggling to survive. Two polar bear cubs grow up in the shrinking ice while a walrus pup tries to survive in the frigid waters. Queen Latifah narrates this adventure of the young animals as they face a changing climate and other threats in the wild.

Nature documentaries have come a long way from the National Geographic specials I saw as a child. A film like “Arctic Tale” has a lot in common with other films like “March of the Penguins,” “Deep Blue” and the new Disneynature film “Earth.” They present a somewhat contrived story of the wild, featuring animals surviving in harsh climates.

Movies like these should be seen on the big screen for the viewer to fully appreciate their beauty. However, if you missed a film like “Arctic Tale” in the theaters, watching it at home in BluRay high-def is the next best thing.

The photography of “Arctic Tale” is what makes it so good. The nature documentary style of this movie is brilliant and breathtaking at times. The crew captured some truly rare moments, including a clash between the two animal groups. Sometimes shocking, sometimes heartbreaking, “Arctic Tale” really does a fine attempt to show the harsh realities of the wild while still making things friendly for the whole family.

At times, the storyline (which is made to fit footage from multiple animal families) gets a little too goofy and contrived. In particular, there’s a scene that features a sacrifice a walrus makes to save its young, and it’s tied a little too closely to the overall story. Similarly, a scene featuring the walruses basking in the sun offers an excuse to have them burp and fart for comedic effect. As much as I like a good fart joke (and as much as my kids loved, loved, loved the fart scene), this took me out of the spirit of the film.

Finally, no nature documentary would be complete without a message. I don’t mind a bit of preaching, especially from a film that features Arctic animals and is released on BluRay a day before Earth Day, but “Arctic Tale” gets a little heavy handed at times. I expect some of the message to come through with narration about disappearing polar ice, but the kids in the ending credits telling me how to save the environment seemed to more reflect “An Inconvenient Truth” than “March of the Penguins.”

The bonus features on this disc is a bit slim for what it could be. There’s a brief “Making of Arctic Tale” behind-the-scenes featurette as well as the theatrical trailer in HD. You’ll also find a video segment about polar bear spotting from the “Are We There Yet? World Adventure” video series. Kids should enjoy this because it involves two kids as hosts of the show.

Still, the real reason to pick this film up on BluRay is for the stunning nature photography, which is tailor made for high-def viewing.

Kids, families and environmentalists.

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