To The Arctic

By: Addison Wylie

To The Arctic is another documentary that reminds us just how relentless heat is against Mother Nature. The film, to which showcases the habitats and lifestyles of arctic animals (primarily a polar bear family), has an abundance of sweeping establishing shots showing audiences how much more desolate the deepest part of the Northern hemisphere has become.A strong attribute of Greg MacGillivray’s documentary (also co-produced by his son, Shaun) is its ability to tell a story or introduce interesting tidbits by displaying a touching single shot. When we see a childless polar bear is slowly swimming towards nothing in empty waters, we don’t necessarily need Meryl Streep narrating to tell us just how troublesome the situation is; although Streep’s voice is incredibly soothing.

In fact, Streep does such a good job narrating that we begin to miss her when someone else takes over the role. She is able to tell us useful information (written by Stephen Judson without pointing fingers or laying on any guilt trips) without specifically playing towards youngsters or adults. It’s a perfect tone for everyone.

But, when Adam takes over (a fearless scuba diver on the crew), he emphasizes too many words and his speech sounds stressed. It’s one thing to simplify the information but the data shouldn’t sound condescending.

While we’re on the topic of inadequate audio, this would be a perfect time to talk about Paul McCartney’s musical contribution.

McCartney has provided songs to play along with the footage. The musical selections are duds and get worse as the film progresses. McCartney usually has a great voice but in To The Arctic, he resorts to whining unpleasant notes. The lyrics range from clunky and failing to provide amusement whatsoever (as we watch a walrus laze about on a rock, McCartney sings, “I’m not coming down. I like it up here.”) to being flat-out weird. During some introductory cutaways, McCartney sings, “The world is round. It turns me on.” Remind me to steer clear of Paul when he’s spinning a globe.

Bad songs and faulty narration aside, the swiftly paced To The Arctic (clocking in at a mere 40 minutes) is a greatly fascinating watch and definitely worth checking out; notably for its cinematography and its ability to generate awareness. There is no doubt children and adults will marvel at the eye-opening landscapes. It may even push some audience members to help change these unfortunate conditions. In that case, those movie goers will be happy to find lots of information during the end credits as to how they can lend a hand.

Before parting, I’ve seen To The Arctic advertised as a 3D IMAX film. In Toronto, the Canadian premiere was a 2D presentation that took place at the Ontario Science Centre’s OMNIMAX, an IMAX screen inside a dome. Even though Torontonians won’t don 3D glasses in the OMNIMAX, the immersiveness is spectacular and, dare I say, better than 3D.

However, movie goers prone to motion sickness beware. Even I, as someone who hasn’t upchucked since my early teens, was feeling nauseous when the camera zoomed past icebergs and bobbed up and down in the waters. Grasp on to that motion sickness bag, just like a lone polar bear clinging to an iceberg, and brace yourself.

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