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March of the Penguins

Review Written by: Will Penley
Film: A+
Video/Audio/Extras: B/A/B

Directed by: Luc Jacquet
Written by: Jordan Roberts
Produced by: Yves Darondeau, Christophe Lioud and Emmanuel Priou
Starring: Morgan Freeman
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Rent it

I'm not a big fan of documentaries. I rarely will buy or rent one and I never watch the Discovery Channel. However, when Luc Jacquet's March of the Penguins was released this past summer and I read the great reviews, my interests were immediately piqued. How could an 80-minute documentary about a group of penguins be so great? That's a question I'll never be able to answer, but this is without a doubt an amazing experience.

March of the Penguins follows an enormous group of emperor penguins as they make their annual seventy-mile trek through the Antarctic to find a mate and breed their young. They are birds, but do not fly. They are marine animals, but will not swim. For weeks, they will walk through dangerous icy lands, dodging both predators and fierce snowstorms, all to ensure the safety of their young chicks.

Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman narrates this chronicle of love and hardship and no other actor could have done it better. March of the Penguins never fails to fascinate and what's even more fascinating is that the filmmakers behind it were right there with the penguins through the icy desert! Just a few days ago, this film won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature and rightly so. As a documentary, I give March of the Penguins an "A+."

Warner hasn't included a whole lot of extras on this release, but there's a couple of things for our enjoyment. The first extra is an excellent behind-the-scenes documentary entitled "Of Penguins and Men," which runs for about an hour and plays sort of like a video diary of the shoot. There's also an informative episode of National Geographic's "Crittercam" that focuses on emperor penguins. A very funny Looney Tunes cartoon, "8 Ball Bunny," features Bugs Bunny trying to get a stranded, skating penguin back to his home. A big Looney Tunes fan, this was a real treat for me. Closing out the extras is the film's theatrical trailer.

Though it's best seen in theaters, March of the Penguins remains an astonishing experience even on home video.

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