‘From the people who brought you “March of the Penguins”,’ informs the trailer for this wildlife doc by husband and wife Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson. That may be, but the only connection I can make between the two – apart from their polar locations – is that they both carry the National Geographic moniker.
Where ‘March…’ stuck to a mature doc template, this one stoops to kindergarten level by giving names to its lead protagonists (a polar bear cub named Nanu and a walrus pup called Seela) and using some crafty editing to spin a yarn around their lives and habits. This anthropomorphic Disneyfication – presumably intended to give youngsters something to relate to – is made worse by the film’s elementary dialogue and Queen Latifah’s crass ’n’ brash delivery.
But that’s not the worst of it; there’s something weird about the sound effects too. Do cute little polar bear cubs really go ‘weeeee’ when falling into a hole? And do walruses really break wind in such human fashion? The consistency of the print quality also disappoints: one minute it’s pristine ‘Planet Earth’-style eye candy, and the next it’s wishy-washy stuff that looks like it was filmed on a camcorder.
But let’s not be too cynical. The nub of the film is to recruit more children to the great ecological cause and in that respect it succeeds. It’s also refreshing to see a child-friendly nature film that doesn’t shy away from harsh realities. Which prompts the following parental warning: Nanu’s nameless little brother doesn’t make it. Sorry, thought you should know.