"Top of the World"
"To The Arctic"
Narrated by Meryl Streep
Directed by Greg MacGillivray
Monday, February 27, 2012, must have been a very interesting day for Meryl Streep. It was the day after she won her third Academy Award (Best Actress for "The Iron Lady"), and after what must have been a very long night filled with excitement, lots of hugs and a never-ending succession of parties, she still found the time and the focus to wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to record her sensitive and articulate narration for "To The Arctic" - the beautiful, breathtaking and very moving IMAX 3-D documentary about one of the coldest places on earth that took four years to produce.
In 40 short-but-sweet minutes, director Greg MacGillivray - the two-time Oscar-nominee behind the documentaries "The Living Sea" and "Dolphins" - takes viewers to the top of the world to witness the never-ending struggles a courageous mother polar bear must endure in an effort to protect her twin seven-month old cubs from the harsh elements of her stunning environment. Since it's a foregone conclusion that most people will never get to see the gorgeous sights captured here with the naked eye, that alone makes "To The Arctic" an incredible, inspiring and unforgettable IMAX experience.
MacGillivray uses specially designed cameras to get up close and personal with the shy polar bears, which makes the film even more compelling, captivating and intimate. But since the movie also explores the terrible consequences of climate change on the ever-shrinking ice caps of the North Pole, it's also quite upsetting to watch as its inhabitants struggle even more to stay alive. The panoramic views of waterfalls on glaciers and ice caps that extend as far as the eye can see are magnificent to behold, but not when you consider how the effects of global warming could make these sights disappear from the earth as early as 2050.
A nature doc like this may have a been-there-done-that feel to it after the likes of "March of the Penguins" and TV's "Frozen Planet," but "To The Arctic" overcomes its otherwise simplistic storytelling arc to succeed as a touching, thought-provoking and awe-inspiring triumph. In addition to polar bears, the film also follows the caribous and walruses that call the Arctic home. And it features a sensitive score composed by Steve Wood, along with songs by noted environmental activist Paul McCartney. The latter makes the most sense - after all, the Walrus was Paul.
Verdict: SEE IT!
-- Scott Mantz
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