If not for the unexpected box-office success of March of the Penguins, Arctic Tale would never have seen the light of theatrical release. The documentary would have ended up as a National Geographic special on whatever TV channel nature shows are broadcast these days (remember, I don't have cable), and I suspect a slightly less glitzy star than Queen Latifah would have narrated the show. However, Paramount Vantage is gambling that families will flock to theaters to see more polar adventures with adorable animals, even if the animals aren't doing anything we haven't seen before.

The success of March of the Penguins is that it introduced many of us to a phenomenon of nature: the mass marches and other rituals that make up penguin conception and birth. If you're a fan of nature shows you may have known all about the penguin march, but most of us did not. Unfortunately, Arctic Tale does not focus around a similar phenomenon. The movie concentrates its story around a baby polar bear and a baby walrus as they struggle to survive in the Arctic mountains and islands ... especially since in recent years, the ice melts earlier and forms later every year. The phenomenon here is actually global warming, although it is never mentioned by that name, but it is not a radical enough catalyst to muster much interest. The animals themselves are simply too predictable -- they swim, hang out on the ice, wrestle, hunt, and eventually grow up.