Kris Weberg: “It ruled.”

We expect a CGI children's film to provide dazzling visuals, music, and the odd in-joke meant solely for mom and dad. What we don't expect is one that commits as wholeheartedly to its premise as this one. While they sing, and speak, and seem to have an unusual culture all their own, the movie's Emperor Penguins remain anatomically accurate -- no grasping things with flippers here -- and (to a large extent) limited in their perspectives of the world around them. Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, and Brittany Murphy (in a surprisingly strong vocal performance) may belt out R&B standards, and Elijah Wood (as the youngster protagonist) may have the typical quest-romance story required in such stuff, the degree to which the penguins act like penguins is astonishing. And when humans do finally turn up, they are and remain appropriately foreign and forbidding presences to the animals of the film. Director George Miller and the team at Dreamworks have clearly studied the landmark March of the Penguins, and in grafting a comparatively grounded version of the film's chosen critters onto the standard plotline (borrowed, in this case, from equal parts The Trumpet of the Swan and Footloose), they manage no small amount of invention along the way. Robin Williams tags along as not one, but two sidekicks from two different penguin species.

− November 24, 2006 • more by Krislog in or create an account to reply

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