March Of The Penguins

March Of The Penguins (2005)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Morgan Freeman (Narration)
Extras: Documentary, Crittercam, Animated Short

Venturing onto the content of Antarctica, one of the darkest, driest, windiest and coldest places on Earth, you get to meet one of the most fascinating species that share this sometimes cruel planet with us, the Emperor Penguin. "March Of The Penguins" will take you on an awe-inspiring journey with these amazing creatures as they make their annual migration to their traditional breeding ground. Taking them hundreds of miles as they trek across the continent on foot in freezing cold temperatures and brutal arctic winds, while enduring extreme periods of starvation, all to find true love and attempt to breed new life. Directed by Luc Jacquet and featuring the stunningly beautiful cinematography of Laurent Chalet and Jerome Maison, this National Geographic Feature Film is an adventure not to be missed.

Warner Home Entertainment brings the wondrous and remarkable tale of "March Of The Penguins" to DVD in a fantastic anamorphic widescreen transfer, displaying an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. With the high contrasts involved to showcase the mostly deep rich black levels paired with the starkly white setting, the transfer offers up a terrific visual balance. Color saturation is nicely managed, capturing the fine splash of color adorning the Penguins facial features to the beautifully photographed sunsets and sunrises that appear every so often throughout the film. There is no dust or debris present, but the transfer does display the slightest of grain, which is merely a characteristic of the chosen film stock. I was thoroughly impressed with the overall presentation of "March Of The Penguins."

The soundtrack options available include 5.1 channel Dolby Digital and 2.0 channel presentations, with the 5.1 mix chosen for this review. Morgan Freeman's characteristically comforting voice is reproduced to appear quite natural as he provides the narration for "March Of The Penguins." Overall balance is very good, keeping the narrative track front and center, while blowing snow and crackling ice mixed with the film's soft musical score help to provide a great surround sound experience.

The only extra provided with "March Of The Penguins" (Canadian DVD release) is a 53-minute making of documentary titled "Of Penguins And Men", which pairs quite handsomely with the feature presentation. Highlighting the challenges that faced the filmmakers during production such as dealing with the extreme temperatures that reach well below zero, while being left for a period of nine months in virtual seclusion between each supply ship run, are just some of the obstacles that had to be overcome to bring this project to light. Of course, all of that pales in comparison to what the Emperor Penguins endure winter after winter. Thoroughly enjoyable and quite informative, this documentary is a must see. If you are lucky enough to own the U.S. release of "March Of The Penguins", in addition to the documentary, you also get a feature titled "Crittercam: Emperor Penguins" showcasing these little guys diving and feeding underwater. A short animated feature from Warner Brothers entitled "8-Ball Bunny" that features Bugs Bunny and a Penguin, with a theatrical trailer finishing off the special features section.

To witness just what the Emperor Penguin goes through to live, love and bring new life to our world is quite fascinating, yet touching all at the same time. A film like this causes you to simply open your eyes to your everyday surroundings, leaving you to take a step back and consider just how easy we as humans have it and just how much we take for granted on a daily basis. I'm not trying to be too deep here, but I think that "March Of The Penguins" is a very special and entertaining journey for the whole family, one that will give you new respect for all species that share our planet, like this group of Penguins, who brave the harshest of climates to find love and ensure their species survives another generation, truly beautiful filmmaking at it's finest.