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March of the Penguins

Reviewed By Luke Pyzik
Posted 02/21/06 07:10:13

"Death March"
1 stars (Total Crap)

I do not understand the reviews ďMarch of the PenguinsĒ received last year. For months, I heard about the adorable, spectacular, feel-good penguin movie. Did they see the same film I did? Someone must have slipped me the directorís cut because the movie I saw was an hour and a half of watching some of the most adorable creatures on the planet die horrible deaths. And listen, Iím no prude. Really. I have no problem with a documentary exploring mother nature and the harsh realities these creatures face when trying to breed. But I am baffled by the way this movie was sold and received by the public. Who could have guessed that a movie which features baby penguins freezing to death throughout most of its running time would be a word of mouth smash to the tune of an eighty million dollar US box office total? So, yeah, I admit that going in I was expecting something else. But still, I didnít find myself captivated or excited or awed by the film. ďMarch of the PenguinsĒ really just depressed the ever-loving shit out of me.

You will learn one thing while watching ďMarch of the Penguins,Ē and that is it really, really sucks to be a penguin. Honestly, if there is any justice in the world, Ken Lay, Osama Bin Laden, and Dick Cheney will all be reincarnated as penguins. The movie shows us, in all of its hideous detail, the lengths penguins have to go through to procreate. See, it goes like this: for three months out of the year, penguins actually have it pretty good. They swim around and eat and frolic and generally have a good time. Just like in a Coke commercial. Unfortunately, the movie doesnít cover those three months. This movie takes place during the other nine months, wherein the penguins jump out of the water and walk seventy miles to their breeding ground. When they get there, the males and females partner up. Then there is an egg. Now, I am embarrassed to admit that I didnít really catch how that egg actually gets there. Is that really a two-minute penguin sex scene that we witness? What the hell kind of family film is this anyway? Or were they just canoodling? This is a good time to mention that Morgan Freeman narrates the film with his soothing and wise whisper-voice. Unfortunately, he doesnít tell us if that weird scene of close ups and rubbing and touching is indeed two penguins fucking. Maybe itís supposed to be obvious that the penguins are fucking, but Iím just too stupid to have gotten the point. Well excuuuuuse me. Youíd think a movie about penguin procreation would make this point clear to me, but here I am, still unsure if penguins fuck or not.

So ANYWAY, there is an egg. Now, the mother has to go back to the water seventy-miles away where she can feed. The father has to stay back at the breeding ground and protect the egg. He has to stand in one place for months sitting on this egg, not getting any food, and endure the harshest weather on planet Earth. Needless to say, they donít all make it. This is where the death and destruction starts. If you like seeing dead frozen baby penguins, youíll love this movie! Seriously, people actually said that animal lovers would adore this movie. Really? Because Iím an animal lover and it made me want to kill myself. Again, I have to reiterate that I donít have a problem with movies about death or reality or nature. I think a movie can have all those things and still be redemptive and uplifting. But frozen dead baby penguins? Really? I donít need that in my life. Iím sorry.

So at this point in the film, we get to watch the male penguins stand in the cold, get whipped by pummeling winds, and watch many of them freeze to death. Itís great. We also get to see the mothers feeding back in the water. When one of them gets eaten by some sort of arctic sea beast, Morgan Freeman kindly lets us know that not only is the mother dead, but her baby back at the breeding ground will also die because the mother will never return to feed it. Isnít that fantastic, all you animal lovers? So then the mothers come back to feed their chicks and the fathers go off to make the seventy-mile journey so they can finally eat. But the winterís not over yet. Oh, no. Itís just getting started. Many of the mothers will lose their newborn chicks to the freezing cold. Some of the females are so devastated by this that they try to steal other chicks away from their mothers. Isnít that cool? Itís fun to watch depressed penguins go crazy with grief.

All that said, I must admit the film does have plenty of ďWow, how the hell did they get that shotĒ moments. The movie is intimate and some of the footage is quite spectacular. Undoubtedly, a ďmaking-ofĒ documentary would surly be more entertaining than the film itself. I would have investigated the extra features on the DVD for such a film, but quite honestly, I was cold and couldnít bear to see another dead baby penguin. I know Iím alone on this one, but I just hate this movie.

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