Tazi Phillips, Global Animal

Immerse yourself in the earth’s last frontier, the Arctic. This dramatic, rugged landscape is magnificently captured by filmmakers Greg and Shaun MacGillivray in the new 3-D IMAX and Warner Bros. adventure, To the Arctic. While the immense glaciers, pristine waters and wildlife are reminiscent of a time past, the film focuses on the harrowing truth that this environment is quickly disappearing. 

The 40-minute film, narrated by Meryl Streep, follows the lives of a mother polar bear and her cubs as they traverse the Arctic. The documentary examines the extreme temperature changes that are melting the ice and threatening the existence of indigenous animal populations, the most endangered being the polar bear.

Filmed on location for eight months, the crew initially had a difficult time capturing the elusive polar bears on camera, the species that is most associated with the Arctic, and one that is notoriously shy. But by a stroke of luck, the filmmakers came across a polar bear family that was anything but.

Director Greg MacGillivray said, “The captain of the boat … felt after observing her for a couple of days that ‘this is the smartest bear I have ever been around. She is not expending energy to get away from us all. Bears I have seen expend energy — they jump in the water, they swim away and they walk along the ice floe to get away. But she said I am not going to expend any energy to get away from this boat. I am comfortable.”’ The family was so comfortable that they would try to catch the crew’s cameras — remotely controlled equipment that looked like the ice — and ended up breaking some of the cameras in their heavy-duty cases.

The cinematography of To the Arctic is spectacular with underwater views and sweeping landscape shots, one of the most memorable being the enormous waterfalls cascading from the massive ice floes. 

But not all is beautiful and carefree in this harsh land. Moviegoers are often reminded of the hardships these animals face as they struggle to adapt and survive as the climate changes around them. With polar bear’s primary food source, seals, not as plentiful as before, male bears search out cubs for food. One of the most striking scenes in the movie is when the mother and her cubs are chased by a male looking for a meal. Tension builds as they jump from sea ice to sea ice, until the mother bear stops and gives out a bellowing roar, turning the threatening male away.

Kids and adults alike will enjoy To the Arctic, dazzled by the footage, and reminded that although the Arctic environment and wildlife is at a critical point, it is not too late to make a difference.

We give To the Arctic 4 out of 5 paws. 

To the Arctic is in theaters April 20. 

Watch the full trailer here.

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