"To the Arctic" Goes for Guilt but Delivers Instead an Attack on Good Taste
Making up for its 40-minute run time in turgidity and sheer size, To the Arctic, whose 70-mm IMAX presentation stretches postcard hokum to JumboTron size, is a travelogue doubling as an eco guilt-trip. Director Greg MacGillivray (Everest) buries the viewer in an avalanche of helicopter-view majesty while narrator Meryl Streep petitions for the preservation of the receding North Pole ice and anthropomorphizes the animal stars in a fashion associated with Morgan Freeman. The cast of To the Arctic are the region's walruses, migratory caribou, and, most of all, the polar bears — particularly mama bears and cubs, for the film is a paean to maternal resilience and fortitude in these times of thinning sea ice and scarce seal meat. (To preserve its sentimental view of the natural order, G-rated To the Arctic is tactful about the reality of carnivorous existence — we must infer that mama seals do not love their children as much as mama polar bears do.) The fatal cloying is abetted by Steve Wood's soundtrack compositions and selections from Sir Paul McCartney's catalog, a combination syrupy enough to glue one's feet to the theater floor. Arguably a good lesson for kids about preserving our environment, To the Arctic is definitely a threat to our equally endangered good taste.
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