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The familiar, soothing baritone of Morgan Freeman’s narration in the opening minutes of “March of the Penguins 2: The Call” tells you everything you need to know about what’s to come. “Meet the remarkable emperor penguin,” he says as the tuxedoed creature waddles along a barren patch of ice. “Again.”
Completed a decade after French director Luc Jacquet’s original paean to the arctic birds made $127 million at the box office and won a best documentary Oscar, this sort-of sequel provides a refurbished, high-resolution dose of the same natural wonders found in the initial installment: the perilous routine of courtship, breeding, and long-distance treks for food in the extreme conditions of Antarctica, by animals that know nothing else.
Jacquet - Franchise - Lives - Release - March
Jacquet’s franchise has had multiple lives. The European release of “March of the Penguins” included French actors voicing the penguins, and Freeman’s gentler, benevolent intonations for the English-language version turned the movie into a cultural phenomenon (and, for Freeman, an innocuous punchline; he’s second only to Christopher Walken in a ranking of the world’s most recognizable voices). Freeman’s off-screen performance for “Penguins” in turn influenced Jacquet’s approach to the sequel, released as “March of the Penguins 2: L’Empereur” in France two years ago with solo voiceover by Lambert Wilson. The nature movie is now a formula — let the wise guru guide you through an astonishing ecosystem — and Freeman’s return for Hulu’s exclusive release of the English-language version feels like business as usual.
The home-viewing platform is an ironic outlet for this ravishing grab bag of visual splendor, but even on the small screen, penguins are the stars. This time, Jacquet captures their delicate maneuvers in minute detail with even better technology. The 4k resolution adds a remarkable polish to the large birds’ hulking frames, the citrus stripes dotting their fur, and the bluish...
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