Plot: What’s it about?
The arctic landscape is brutal, ice cold and barren for miles upon miles. But life survives there nonetheless, even though life is more harsh and intolerable here than almost anywhere else in the world. In Arctic Tale, we see a young polar bear cub named Nanu and a walrus pup named Seela, who face an uphill road for survival. The environment around these young animals is brutal, even under normal conditions, but recent changes have made survival even more difficult. The polar world is warming and melting, which has a huge impact on the entire ecosystem. As Nanu and Seela are raised and taught how to survive by their mothers, they also have to cope with less surface space on the ice and decreased food supplies. Can Nanu and Seela survive their harsh youths and become the next generation of polar animals?
I have to admit, I was a little blind sided by Arctic Tale. I assumed this was a straight up nature documentary, with a focus on polar animals and the landscape they inhabit. While that is true to an extent, this plays more like America’s Funniest Animals at times, with a lame musical soundtrack, low brow attempts at humor, horrific narration from Queen Latifah, and grating advice on being green, as delivered by children. I wanted to see lush landscapes and watch as these animals adapted to the environmental changes around them, but instead, this seems to want to entertain more than educate. There is some beautiful photography to be sure, but the tone of the movie just seems off to me, though I am sure it makes the film more enjoyable for younger viewers. In the end, Arctic Tale comes off as middle of the road, worth a rental to see the visuals, but little else.
Video: How does it look?
Arctic Tale is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This transfer looks good, but didn’t have the kind of dynamic visual presence I expected. I suppose I have been spoiled by programs like Planet Earth, but I found the visuals here to be a little soft and unremarkable. The film taps into various sources however, so there is some unavoidable variance and the inherent grain that comes with some footage isn’t a concern. The image here shows decent detail, but just doesn’t have the spark I wanted to see, though perhaps the film would look more impressive in high definition. So in the end, this transfer is good, but never quite reaches the visual levels it could have.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 option sounds good, but keep in mind, this is a documentary, so sound design is more natural than bombastic. That said, the surrounds do come to life from time to time, with effective results, but for the most part, the front channels shoulder the burden. The sounds of the arctic come across well, as do the narration and music elements. There’s not much more I can report, the film sounds quite good. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround option, French and Spanish language tracks, and subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a brief featurette on polar bear spotting, as well as a general behind the scenes piece that runs just over twenty minutes. The more substantial featurette is solid, but not as in depth as you might want, but for a brisk twenty minutes, it provides decent information.