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ARCTIC TALE (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 4, 2009 by  



“‘Arctic Tale’ makes its Blu-ray debut and this is the best the family film has ever looked and has been heard.  An entertaining, inspiring and educational family film that makes you wonder what further environmental changes will come to the Arctic and how it will affect animals years from now.”

Images courtesy of © 2009 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: ARCTIC TALE

DURATION: 86 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p, 5.1 Dolby Digital , 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, English SDH Subtitled , English Subtitled , French Dubbed & Subtitled , Portuguese Subtitled , Spanish Dubbed & Subtitled

RATED: G

COMPANY: Paramount Vantage

RELEASE DATE: April 21, 2009

Directed by Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson

Written by Linda Woolverton, Mose Richards and Kristin Gore

Produced by Adam Leipzig and Keenan Smart

Executive Producers: Tim Kelly, John Bard Manulis, Michael Rosenfield

Co-Producers: Kattie Evans, Chris Miller

Executive Music Producers: David Beal, Emmett Malloy, Ralph Sall

Music Supervisor: Frankie Pine

Music by Joey Talbot

Cast:

Narrated by Queen Latifah

Set in the vast snow kingdom at the top of the world, “Arctic Tale” is a real-life adventure from the people who brought you “March of the Penguins”.  Join narrator Queen Latifah as she follows two very different Arctic creatures, Nanu the polar bear club and Seela the walrus pup, through exciting and harrowing struggles for survival.  Armed only with their natural instincts and mothers’ guidance, these inspiring animals face countless trials and challenges in a beautiful icebound world that is rapidly melting beneath them.

An entertaining and educational family film that makes you wonder what further environmental changes will come to the Arctic and how it will affect animals years from now.

“ARCTIC TALE” is a film by filmmaking couple Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson which have been shooting footage of the Wild for over 15-years and trying to videotape and watch animals and mammals and observe their behavior and relationships in the Arctic.  So, what better but to focus on two significant beings in the Arctic, the polar bears and the walruses, dramatizing the footage and putting a story to show people the effects of the environment on these two animals.  The film is narrated by hip hop artist and actress Queen Latifah.

The film starts off with a female adult polar bear who gives birth to a baby girl which is named Nanu and her twin brother.  Nanu is like her mother.  Feisty and wanting to take charge, while her brother is the total opposite.  Having been living in their little home in the ice for several months, it’s time for the mother and babies to get some food.  So, it’s going to be a learning lesson for both polar bear twins as they learn from their mother on how to find their food and survive the Arctic.

Living alongside the polar bears are the walruses and for this storyline, the film focuses on a young walrus pup named Seela and her auntie.  With walruses, their parents hold them while they are fed but in no time, she will learn how to get food in the Arctic but first she must learn how to survive the currents and the ice but also to be careful of the polar bears.

As the film showcases the survival challenges that these two young animals must face.  You start to learn that these two are facing a different environment than their ancestors.  The shorter winters, a warmer environment  which is forming ice too late and ice that is melting too quickly is not benefiting the animals.

The polar bears can’t easily hunt for their food and are restricted to a certain area.  The walruses who typically stay in large sections of ice, are having a hard time finding homes and they try to avoid areas where they may get attacked by other animals.

So, with no easy access for the polar bears to travel and find their food, they must find food nearby.  Part of the problem is that there are other polar bears, especially the male ones, who are very protective of their own space and food and will kill other polar bears if they try to get nearby.

The film then forwards to a few years later.  For Nanu’s mother, finding food is not going easily and the fact that she has to provide for their two children is going to be a challenge.  Unfortunately, the lack of food through the short warm months becomes too difficult and Nanu’s twin brother, weak because he’s starved and has no strength, quickly succumbs to harsh weather.

With the difficulty of finding food for Nanu’s mother and Nanu, the only way to survive is by separating from each other.  So, Nanu’s mother quickly drives her child off and thus Nanu is now forced to survive on her own.

As for Seela, she also goes through some major trouble of getting lost from her pack and being the target of male polar bears but also being swept under the current and being lost from her pack.  So, Seela has her difficulties.  Fortunately, she has her loving auntie who is there for her no matter what.

The film fast forwards several more years later with the young polar bear and walrus pup now eight years old.  The environment continues to get worse and the climate is making life much more difficult for them and sure enough, for Nanu and Seela, their paths will cross.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“ARCTIC TALE” is a film that features 15 years of footage.  Filmed by Adam Ravetch, the film is featured ala 1080p.  Some scenes look absolute beautiful, while  some that may appear to be stock footage and thus looks as if it has quite a bit of grain.

If anything, “ARCTIC TALE” leaves one in awe about the type of footage Ravetch and his wife Sarah were able to capture on film.  From the various ice collapsing, breaking off to very closeup footage of the polar bears and walrus, even footage in their hole when they are hibernating.  There is quite a bit of magnificent shots that the crew were able to get on film.  But with that being said, there is a difference with looking at films of nature with lush greenery, its plants and flowers and colorful animals.  In the Arctic, it’s snow, gray skies and dark water.  The only sign of color aside from whites, blacks and browns are the reds that you see in the walrus pups eyes and their mouths.

But nevertheless, “ARCTIC TALE” does feature breathtaking scenes in the Arctic but its not a film that you would expect to see plenty of vibrant colors.

As for audio, I have to say that “ARCTIC TALE” sounds incredible via Dolby TrueHD.  I don’t think I recall hearing sounds that caught my attention on DVD but on Blu-ray, the sounds of the ice breaking, the winds swirling and growls and noises by the polar bears and walruses really come out.  And it comes out sounding very good on a 7.1 system.  Of course, this is not an action film where you would hear your home theater system being put to the test audio-wise but the film does manage to feature a good variety of sound that just sounds great as it comes from your front and center channels but then hearing things behind you through the rears surrounds and the center rears.

As for subtitles, “ARCTIC TALE” features English SDH Subtitles , English Subtitles , French Dubbed & Subtitles , Portuguese Subtitles and Spanish Dubbed & Subtitled.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Special features included on the “ARCTIC TALE” Blu-ray are:

  • Making Of Arctic Tale– This 24-minute special feature is a short behind-the-scenes featurette about the filming of “ARCTIC TALE” featuring Adam Ravetch and his wife Sarah Robertson.  How Ravetch found Inuit people (primariy Pakiki Quamanik) from the town of Igloolik to assist him to film “ARCTIC TALE” but most importantly helping him locate a spot where they can find a newborn walrus.  After four years of searching, the group found one.  Most importantly, how he was given the opportunity by a walrus to allow him to film closely as she fed her pup.  When filming the walrus, this is when they were approached by polar bears and from that point on, Ravetch wanted to go for broke and really risk his life in trying to get footage of a polar bear attacking a large group of walruses.    Overall, an interesting featurette documenting Ravetch’s adventures.
  • Are We There Yet? World Adventure: Polar Bear Spotting – A near seven minute special feature from the “Are We There Yet? World Adventure” TV Show with a segment as the child hosts go to Canada to get close to a polar bear.
  • Theatrical Trailer HD – The trailer for “Arctic Tale” in High Definition.

“ARCTIC TALE” was definitely an entertaining film.  It’s hard to classify the film as a documentary because it’s a story trying to humanize the challenges that polar bears and walruses face in the arctic by making a film about birth to growing up and eventually becoming an adult.

And despite the film being about a polar bear cub and a walrus pup as they grow up, the footage is from 15-years of filming, so many different polar bears and walruses were shot in order to tell a story to tell about how the changing climate is causing problems and is hurting the animals in the Arctic.  This is not a film that shows an actual single polar bear and walrus from birth to adulthood.  Knowing the conditions and the risks the filmmakers put themselves through, not sure if that would have been possible.

As for parents who wonder if “ARCTIC TALE” is suitable for their children, I watched the film with my six-year-old son and of course, there were questions in regards to a death to an animal and of course, when polar bears and the walruses clash, because of the intense sound coming from your home theater, I know my son was a bit scared.  But other than that, the film is family friendly and parents shouldn’t have to worry about the content of the film.

“ARCTIC TALE” definitely has a positive message for children to learn from.  Children will learn about how the climate affects the animals and of course, at the end of the film, children give tips on how people can help benefit the environment and possibly help these animals from the actions that they do in their own home.

Also, as many may have been surprised to hear Queen Latifah do the narration, in my opinion she did a great job and put some spunk into her narration.  Having watched quite a few BBC-related nature driven shows and several films/documentaries about animals, it’s good to hear something not always straightforward all the time.  Queen Latifah has a calming voice but again, calm with a dash of spunk.

Having watched this film previously on DVD, I have to say that I’m quite impressed with the Blu-ray treatment especially when it came to audio.  The Arctic really does come alive with the DTS-HD Master Audio track.  The picture quality has plenty of beautiful moments that look great via 1080p but of course, considering the terrain of snow, sea and gray skies and polar bears and walruses, you’re not going to expect plent of colors in this film.  But nevertheless, the type of footage filmed and knowing through the special features how Ravetch and team really went all out and quite far just to get the footage is amazing.

Overall, “ARCTIC TALE” is a educational and fun family film.  It’s not exactly a film that is all happy but nevertheless, the goal was to make a family film but also educating the viewer on how the Arctic is changing quickly with the current climate.

If films about nature, the Arctic or watching polar bears and walruses interest you, then definitely check out “ARCTIC TALE” on Blu-ray!






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