Synopsis: A journey into the lives of a mother polar bear and her two seven-month-old cubs as they navigate the changing Arctic wilderness they call home.
Stars: A Walrus, A Polar Bear and Meryl Streep (narrating)
Director: Greg MacGillivray
Running Length: 40 minutes
TMMM Score: (6/10)
Review: Polar bears are really cleaning up on the big and small screens these past few years. From Planet Earth to Arctic Tale to Frozen Planet the polar bear story has been captured from every possible angle. Well…at least until now. Now they are coming at you in 3D so bundle up and hunker down for a moderately entertaining call-to-eco-arms film masquerading as a family friendly nature doc.
At a trim 40 minutes, To the Arctic: 3D is director MacGillivrary’s latest contribution to the IMAX film canon he brought into the mainstream with his award winning Everest. With his lens trained on several inhabitants of the dwindling Artic ice there seems to be less focus on our central subjects and more attention to the changing world in which they struggle to survive. The angle here is, sadly, nothing new and the film comes off as yet another documentary showing us how terrible our actions have made it for these animals.
I don’t mean to imply that To the Arctic: 3D does not have a message that needs to be heard, investigated, or aided. No, placing the spotlight on these ecological points of interest is a good thing – I just wish it wasn’t wrapped up in a movie that marketed itself in a different way. What we end up with is a movie that feels heavy and sluggish despite its brisk running time because of too many shots with nothing much to look at.
Narrator Streep is, of course, impressive in her delivery of the preachy dialogue – her commanding voice and intuitive inflection is a great match with the chilly landscape and dangerous animals that are featured prominently in the film. Also impressive to note is that Streep recorded her dialogue the day after she won her Oscar for The Iron Lady. Here she sounds remarkably rested and positively serene…but then of course this is Meryl Streep we’re talking about.
Another slightly troubling aspect of the film is that it seemed a little intense to be rated G. A few sequences wouldn’t have sat well with me when I was a child and the eating of seals and the serious threats of cannibalistic polar bears may not sit well with parents either.
The 3D effects too are only used half-heartedly. Despite making good use of the technology during an otherwise overly barren title sequence, the 3D isn’t even used to enhance the tundra and give it depth. Several shots of swimming polar bears and falling snow work some magic on the eyes but this is not a movie that warrants a trip to the zoo to see it in all its big screen glory.