Since 1948’s Seal Island, Disney has been telling the stories of different animals in their natural habitat. Originally Disney told the stories of nature through the True-Life Adventures. Today, the stories found in nature continue on through the Disneynature films. This year on Earth Day, Disneynature released a story about Steve, an Adélie penguin. Disneynature’s Penguins is the story of Steve as he strives to survive in the Antartic, find a partner, and raise a family. As he does this, he faces frigid weather, predators, and even competition from other Adélie penguins.
The story of Steve in Penguins really just follows a year in the life of a penguin. From the countless hours of video that was shot by the Disneynature team, a story was put together that shows what it is like to be a young penguin facing the world. The story is narrated by Ed Helms. The combination of this quirky penguin with Helms narration creates an entertaining, and often, humorous story.
Disneynature films are simply beautiful and Penguins definitely lives up to this expectation. There are some gorgeous scenes throughout the course of this film. Some of them are close-ups of penguins, other wide shots of the beautiful and epic landscapes that are found in the Antartic. The result is this film shows both the beauty but also the reality of what the land where thousands of penguins dwell is. Sometimes this is gorgeous and pristine, other times it shows what happens when thousands of penguins walk in the same place. However, the detail and quality of what is captured are stunning.
The main character in Penguins is Steve. As the film progresses he finds a partner in Adeline. Together, they raise two chicks as the movie progresses. While Adeline and the chicks are definitely an important part of this film, really it’s all about Steve. Steve is quirky, a bit accident prone, and really kind of the underdog as he tries to catch up with all the other penguins around him. In fact, it seems like he is always a little bit behind throughout the movie. This makes for a very likable star that is easy to root for. He quickly becomes the favorite penguin in the colony.
Music is an essential part of Disney films, especially the Disneynature films. It really becomes a character in itself and is instrumental (yes, I said it) in telling the story. In Penguins there are some interesting and very good choices made in regards to music. The score itself is delightful. I look forward to finding the soundtrack and listening to it. It has a lightness and quirkiness to it that fits with the story of Steve that it is helping tell. At times it also has a grandeur to it that helps set the scene for the environment in which Steve lives. My favorite tune had to be that of the marching penguins, it is really a lot of fun and almost reminded me of the music from Elf.
The score is written by Harry Gregson-Williams who wrote the music The Chronicles of Narnia, The Martian, Shrek, Man on Fire, Kingdom of Heaven, Unstoppable, and The Meg. There are also some rock songs that are also included that add another element of fun to this movie. Overall the music adds both heart and humor to the movie.
For years I have absolutely loved penguins. Where most kids had a teddy bear growing up, I had a plush penguin. This is a movie I have been looking forward to for quite some time. Disneynature’s Penguins is quite simply a fun little movie (it really isn’t that long) that is full of heart. Throughout the movie I found myself rooting for Steve and his family and stressing when things weren’t going so well for them. I will admit, I’m a little biased because in general, I will be predisposed to like any decent movie about penguins. Thankfully, I feel like this movie is better than decent.
Penguins is charming and by the end of the movie, I really found myself wanting to know how the next year for Steve turned out. He is genuinely likable, especially with the help of Ed Helms. This isn’t some solemn narrated documentary. Instead, it is full of personality that very much matches Ed Helms. It was almost like Disney had Helms character from The Office, Andy Bernard, stop by and narrate for Steve. Overall, this is a movie that I enjoyed and look forward to seeing again in the comfort of my own home. If you have been enjoying the Disneynature films, go out and see this one. Or, if you just like penguins, definitely worth seeing as well! And really, who doesn’t like penguins!?