Not so much an informative documentary and not so much a charming composite of family-friendly embellishment, Arctic Tale finds itself right smack in the middle of self-consciously catering to both the apolitical and political. If the films eventual silence over the specific polemic is anything to go by, then it should be added that it makes a diffidently rhetorical and not all too searching point about global-warmings dire effects on the polar icecaps and its denizens for the sake of a barely tenable story.
It all just amounts to a somewhat ironic escalation of furball fiction by supplanting the increasingly sophisticated and life-like rendering of underwritten, anthropomorphic critters and photo-realistic graphics with actual animals and environment. And not for nothing but the whimsical Babe and the disarmingly sincere Two Brothers have never idealised themselves after documentaries or the austere notions of non-fiction. Arctic Tale is remarkably well shot, at times even wondrous in its visual execution, which should be no surprise considering that it is ostensibly a National Geographic production with all the vigour and dedication that usually goes along with that tag.
But if Arctic Tale templates the narrative of its obvious sire in Luc Jacquets March of the Penguins and its grounded fancies of quaint animal behaviour, then the filmmaking coupling of Sarah Robertson and Adam Ravetch facetiously infuse their film with largely trivialising kiddie-fodder pop sensibilities in an attempt to ingratiate itself to its audience. The insufferable scripting of its narration aside, it doesnt quite nail its fascination with the circle of life but instead uses it as a cheap opportunity to aggrandise the basic communal bonds between the animals with banal show tunes
Naming its two primary subjects, while not impractical further adds to the overly accentuated (and patronising) humanisation of the animal kingdom. Seela, the walrus and Nanu, the polar bear were purported to have been followed through adolescence and maturity but the film is unconcerned about following the same walrus and bear around despite predicating its entire approach on personalising these fuzz-balls. The air of disingenuousness markedly hits home when the film winds down with a falsely optimistic Kumbaya vibe that casts doubts of whether the film fully reflects what the filmmakers set out to investigate over 10 years ago.