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Flash Movie Review: Penguins

AT PRESENT, ONE OF THE MOVIE theaters I frequent had a portion of its entrance roped off. There was a sign hanging on the barrier that instructed visitors not to disturb or go near the nesting goose because she might attack. In the middle of this long patch of landscaped greenery was the goose sitting upon her nest. Seeing the goose sitting there looked weird to me because, except for this one patch of greenery, she was surrounded by concrete and glass. With people shopping at the outdoor mall I thought there would have been too much noise and activity for the mother goose. I knew geese were territorial and were not afraid to defend their area. When I came out from the movie theater the goose was standing out in the open near the curb. She still had an eye on her nest; but she watched me as I had to make my way around her, giving her enough space while getting to my car. Once I was safely seated I looked back at her and thought about the unsuspecting people who would not read the sign and get to close to her. I bet they got a nasty surprise.      HAVING SEEN THAT MOTHER GOOSE REAFFIRMED a memory of me being told to always respect the bond between a mother and her child; there is nothing stronger than a mother defending her baby. I do not remember if I learned it in school or from that weekly television show hosted by Marlin Perkins. All I can recall is seeing a nature film clip of a pack of wildebeests being chased by a big African cat. Maybe it was a cheetah or lion that had focused its attention on one of the babies. When the baby could not keep up and swerved away from the pack, the cat changed directions to zero in on the little wildebeest. The mother saw what was happening and made a beeline towards the cat. She headbutted the cat in its side, knocking the animal over. It was enough time for the baby wildebeest to head back to the pack. I have so many more memories of adult animals nurturing their young. Seeing a mother chimpanzee teach her baby how to use a stick to dig food out from a hole or polar bear mothers teaching their young the necessary survival skills for the first 2 years of their lives; not to be rude, but some humans could learn a thing or two by watching their animal counterparts. One group worth watching would be the incredible penguins in this documentary.      DESPITE HAVING ONE OF THE HARSHEST environments on the planet, Antarctica is the home of the Adelie penguins. They will travel miles on foot, fend off predators and be a shield against the cold to protect their young. Directed by Alastair Fothergill (Chimpanzee, Earth) and Jeff Wilson (Our Planet-TV, Great Bear Statkeout-TV), this movie was beautifully filmed. The scenes were fascinating to watch as the film studio spent something like 3 years to capture their footage of the animals. The script with Ed Helms (The Hangover franchise, Love the Coopers) as the narrator was a little too cutesy in my opinion. The focus of the story was on Steve, a young penguin coming of age. I enjoyed watching this movie but compared to the other animal documentaries I have seen from this studio, this one was not as moving and fun for me. The issue had to do with the penguins; as a whole, penguins do not have a personality like monkeys or bears. There were few antics and some of them were being generated by the way Ed narrated the script. Despite this I still enjoyed the film. After seeing what these penguins go through in life, I have to say my life is pretty good compared to these stoic animals.

 

3 stars      

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Flash Movie Review: Blackfish

His sobbing was only disturbed by his deep intakes of air as sadness dripped off of him. I felt helpless as I stood nearby. Quietly entering into my field of vision was his pet dog, slowly walking towards him sprawled across the bed. The dog stopped to look at me, as if to tell me he would take care of it, before jumping up onto the bed. Carefully stepping across the thickly quilted bedspread, the pet came up to my friend and settled alongside him. Then the most startling thing happened next. The dog stretched his front right paw out onto my friend’s shoulder. It looked like the dog was comforting him, staying right by his side; I began to tear up. I was witnessing this dog’s empathy towards his master. One could see how easy it would be to place human emotions on animals. Unfortunately this documentary showed what the consequences could be by doing such a thing. After seeing the film The Cove which was about the capturing of dolphins, my feelings toward animal attractions changed. Seeing animals doing tricks for human entertainment now upsets me. I am not referring to one’s pet but to big corporations that take intelligent creatures and exploit them for profit. February 24, 2010 was when the news broke that senior trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by an orca killer whale at SeaWorld of Orlando, Florida. The whale was named Tilikum and he was the main focus of this upsetting movie. As a reviewer it was hard for me to write this piece. I wanted to do two; one review based on the emotional reactions to the film and the other towards the technical aspects used in making it. The way the director interviewed former trainers while old film clips were used to show their performances in front of thousands of spectators made for some powerful movie moments. It was heartbreaking to have fishermen explain the footage that showed baby whales being captured in the open seas, only to be subjected to cruel training methods. This Sundance Film Festival nominated film had its moments where I felt I was sitting in a classroom lecture; however, the scenes and the emotions came across as real for me. Before you decide to book you vacation to an amusement park with animal attractions, I suggest you watch this movie. It has changed me forever.

 

3 1/2 stars

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