Tuesday, November 17, 2009

March of the Penguins - Limited-Edition Giftset

Written by Hombre Divertido

On November 3rd, Warner Home Video released the 2006 Academy Award-winning documentary March of the Penguins in a limited-edition gift set.

Morgan Freeman narrates the documentary that chronicles the trek of the Emperor Penguin to its traditional breeding ground, and follows the plight of the parents as they continue to trek back and forth in order to provide for the newly hatched offspring.

March of the Penguins was not only a critical success, but a popular one as well, as the public flocked to the theatre to see a documentary as never before. Freeman’s vocal range and emotion adds to the impact of this documentary, but ultimately it is the direction of Luc Jacuet that turns what could have simply been an educational documentary, into a well-rounded story and movie.

This giftset also includes the lesser-known On the Wings of Penguins, a documentary focused on the African penguin. Though mildly interesting, it is disjointed in its storytelling and focuses too much on the penguins in captivity, which simply is not as interesting as footage of them in the wild.

The bonus material in the two-disc release actually exceeds the primary release in entertainment value in many cases. Those who enjoyed March of the Penguins, but wondered about the people filming the exploits of the engaging birds, will thoroughly enjoy Of Penguins and Men, which focuses of the adventures of the documentarians following the energetic Emperors. The dangers faced by these men are certainly intriguing, as are the relationships they develop with the amazing creatures they are studying.

Interesting but often repetitive is “National Geographic’s Crittercam: Emperor Penguins” which follows the NG team as they attach cameras and other equipment to our friends the Emperor Penguins. Unfortunately, little time is spent on the footage obtained by the cameras accompanying the penguins, and too much time is spent on a story that has already been told in March of the Penguins.

The classic Looney Tunes cartoon “8 Ball Bunny” featuring Bugs Bunny and a penguin is cute, and will appeal to children, but certainly is not one of the better Bugs Bunny adventures.

The theatrical trailer for March of the Penguins, a beautiful penguin plush toy, and a set of eight penguin postcards rounds out this gift set.

Recommendation: March of the Penguins is solid entertainment for the whole family, and this new giftset offers enough bonus material to make this a worthwhile purchase for those that already own the March of the Penguins DVD. Warner Home Video has put together a perfect gift-set just in time for the holidays.


Written by Pirata Hermosa

Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) is an author, a very unsuccessful author who has written only one book that sold slightly more than 400 copies. His wife, Kate (Amanda Peet), grew tired of having her husband go through life with his head buried in his laptop, so she took the two children Lilly (Morgan Lily) and Noah (Liam James) and left him.

Still not having grasped the reality of the situation, Jackson carries on oblivious to his situation and ends up driving a limousine to support himself and his writing habit. When he is late picking up his kids for a camping trip to Yellowstone National Park, he has no clue of what incredible journey he is about to begin.

Three years previous, geologist Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) brought forth some Earth-shattering news. The recent increase of solar flares has been bombarding the planet with a high concentration of Neutrino particles, and much like a microwave, those particles have been heating up the planet’s core. While this is a normal occurrence, the intensity and irregularity of the solar flares is going to heat up the core so much that the Earth’s mantle is going to liquefy, the continents will shift, and the world will be flooded.

With no other course of action, the leaders of the United Nations have enacted an emergency plan for survival centered around a hidden shipyard in China. However, this plan only incorporates the rich and the powerful while leaving the rest of the population completely in the dark about the upcoming tragedy.

When Parker arrives in Yellowstone he attempts to take his kids to one of his favorite spots. But the lake that he once knew is no longer there and rising steam and dead animal carcasses is all that remains. The U.S. government picks the three of them up and escorts them off the premises as they have declared it unstable.

Shortly afterwards he runs into crazy old Charlie (Woody Harrelson) who ends up being a conspiracy nut broadcasting over the airwaves about the upcoming catastrophe and the government cover up. At first Jackson dismisses the man, but the more he hears about his story, the more he begins to realize that he is speaking the truth.

The entire time that he is piecing things together, earthquakes have been hitting cities all around the globe. When a large crevasse opens up in L.A. and swallows his neighborhood grocery store, he realizes that he must react. Quickly chartering a plane and rushing to his wife’s home, he gathers up his family along with his wife’s new boyfriend Gordon (Tom McCarthy) and races back to the airport in the limo. During the entire trip back, the ground is disappearing behind them, gobbling up anything in sight. Buildings are crashing all around them and the ground is pitching and heaving.

Finally they reach the airstrip to find the pilot crushed by a gas pump. Thankfully, Gordon has taken a few flying lessons as he gets the plane off the ground, does a few aerial acrobatics and flies them off to Yellowstone. Jackson needs to contact Charlie because he has a map to where the government has been hiding the survival ships. For the rest of the film the family is working their way towards China by any means necessary in the hopes that somehow they will be able to get aboard and survive the apocalypse.

If you’re looking for a cerebral film, then you certainly aren’t going to enjoy this film. As a matter of fact, you need to check your brain at the door and take it for what it is. If you give too much thought about how a relatively inexperienced pilot can fly through a narrow space as buildings are crashing and falling down above him, how a man can drive a limousine through a building, or if you can really jump a motor home over a 20-foot chasm, you’ll be walking out soon after it starts.

The basic idea of a man trying to save both his family and reconcile his relationship with them at the same time has been done many times over. In fact, there really isn’t anything new about the story at all. It’s very predictable and they keep managing to escape from one preposterous situation into the next, kind of a like a never-ending chase scene where they’re being chased by natural disasters. If you had to classify it, it would be one of those mindless summertime popcorn films.

With that being said, if you can keep your mind focused on the visual aspects of the film, watching the Earth being destroyed by earthquakes and tsunamis, you can probably have a fun time. The action is continuous and it doesn’t really feel like it is 2-1/2 hours long.