Disneynature’s Penguins Review: An Antarctic adventure that’s fun for everyone
Disneynature’s Penguins takes viewers to Antarctica to see a fun and care-free adventure of an Adelie penguin’s journey through fatherhood.
The film, narrated by Ed Helms, follows a special and energetic Adelie penguin named Steve as he travels to drier land in order to start a family. However, with the terrifyingly cold Antarctic weather and predators that making having a family much harder, Steve must withstand the odds to keep his new family safe.
There’s some truly excellent camera work that showcases the Antarctic landscape in an entirely new way and Steve’s personality. Often times, the Antarctic is shown to be this rolling, icy landscape that looks cold and is filled to the brim with white snow and water. With Penguins, though, viewers will actually see how the Antarctic summer plays an important role in lives of Adelie penguins. More importantly, viewers will see how the new area impacts Steve as his personality and actions are showed excellently throughout the film.
There’re some great isolated shots of Steve that show his curious personality and his fast-footed pace. It’s impressive to see how, even without uttering words himself, Steve’s personality shines through with his movement and, in a short time, viewers will quickly see how confident he is as he strolls through a sea of Emperor penguins and how courageous he is as he braves the harsh weather to feed his family.
Where the film attempts to give more personality to Steve is with Helms’ narration and voice-over work that ends up being a little too much. While Helms’ voice provides some smooth and genuine narration, his voice-over work to be the “voice of Steve” is both incredibly distracting and completely unnecessary. There’s no real transition between him switching between narration and voice-over and it takes away from certain moments where Steve, himself, sells his actions much better on his own. There’s some charm to some of the lines he says, but he ultimately becomes annoying after a while and because there’s no other voices for other penguins it’s just strange to treat Steve like a cartoon character in situations that don’t always warrant a more light-hearted voice.
The film actually touches on some issues and challenges the Adelie penguins face and shows them in a way that’s more show don’t tell filmmaking. Instead of trying to drive in facts at every turn, Penguins shows the struggles these penguins through great camera shots that point out how harrowing the weather can be and how tense the presence of predators can be. There’s an excellent sequence where Steve is attempting to get back to his family as his partner, Adeline, is slowly being buried by snow and it really showcases how the weather can be incredibly impactful to the penguin’s survival. Not to mention, the film does an excellent job showing how arctic predators, like skuas and leopard seals, are truly life-threatening and it never holds back to how tense these interactions can be.
Disneynature’s newest Antarctic outing is an interesting look at the Adelie penguins and the combination of Steve’s fun personality and Helms’ solid narration leads to an experience that’s fun for everyone. Penguins is a great look at both one of the most beautiful landscapes that’s rarely seen in film and one of the most interesting creatures that live there.