"Arctic Tale" Blu-ray Review
April 14, 2009 by Zach Demeter
It’s inevitable: when one niche little film does gangbusters at the box office and home video, a dozen knock offs come pouring out of the gate. Arctic Tale was one of many to follow March of the Penguins out of the gate and critics and audiences were less than impressed by it. While the story told was fine, it was ultimately hampered by its narration, which was deemed to be a little too childish for the wide audience that viewed it. Still, the visuals were what kept the viewers eyeing the screens and now they can experience it in a whole other way with the Blu-ray release in full 1080p HD.
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 cub 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.
I’ll be completely honest—the visuals were the only thing that kept me viewing this one. I love a good nature documentary, but the narration on this one just about killed (and there was even some fart jokes thrown in—really? Even Discovery Kids doesn’t stoop to that level…I don’t think) any kind of enjoyment I could receive from it, as it simply pandered it down to a purely children’s level. That’s fine and all but if you’ve seen March of the Penguins, then you’ll know that that one is a pretty neutral film when it comes to age groups. Arctic Tale? Not so much. You have to have the mind of a five year old (which I do, admittedly, but it doesn’t mean I want Queen Latifah to talk to me that way) to really appreciate this film.
But childish quips and narration aside, the film isn’t without its merits. It brings home the prospect of global warming and gets kids to think about environmental issues at an early age. What’s sad, however, is that the film is touted as being from the same group as Penguins, yet it really has none of the same talent—unless you count the arctic and snowy lands that it profiles, in which case, yes, it does have that in common. Truth be told, however, the film really was just a big coat-tail rider of a better film, but even having said that, Arctic Tale isn’t completely not worth watching…it just doesn’t have much going for it either.
In the end there’s not much to say about Arctic Tale. The plot isn’t exactly Oscar worthy, but the visuals and the following of a specific family of polar bears is mildly interesting. There are some bloody carcasses strewn about, however, so that may get kind of repulsing to some younger viewers (or older viewers, if they’ve never hit a deer).
Overall a decent film, but hardly a critically acclaimed effort. Rent It for the visuals only (unless you have some five year olds in the house).
Arctic Tale arrives in a standard single disc Elite Blu-ray case, complete with the usual grey washed disc art and firmware update notice insert. Menus are simple and easy to navigate, but the big story for this release is the 1080p, AVC encoded transfer. You and I both know that the first TV station you tune to when you get an HDTV is Discovery Channel. Not because it’s the most interesting, but because it’s more than likely showing something absolutely stunning in HD. Well, that’s the same thing with Arctic Tale (except we don’t have to deal with compressed satellite/cable signals)—it’s not all that interesting to watch, but man the visuals are stunning. Whether it’s the stark white lands or any number of other sequences in the film, Arctic Tale really is just worth seeing for the visuals alone. Back it up with a solid 5.1 TrueHD track (hooray, farts in surround AND high definition!) and you got yourself some demo-worthy material…although there is certainly better out there, but still…this is good too.
The extras are the same as the previous DVD release and include a quick Making Of, a "Are We There Yet? World Adventure: Polar Bear Spotting" piece and the only HD extra, the Theatrical Trailer (1080p). Not a whole lot of stunning material to check out, but, again, it’s a documentary. And a children’s documentary at that, so don’t expect much. Heck, you may even get more enjoyment from Discovery Channel, but if you have kids in the house then this one really is worth checking out.
Overall Arctic Tale on Blu-ray is just like the film—a strict Rental only. But like the film, it really is genuinely worth renting, as it looks absolutely amazing.
Arctic Tale is now available on Blu-ray.