Quite blatantly positioned as a knock-off of this year's wildly successful March of the Penguins (right down to the DVD cover's photo and typeface), the standard issue nature flick Penguins Under Siege, produced by Peter Lamberti, Lolli Goodson and Virginia Quinn, is neither very inspired or particularly gripping. Set on the South African Skeleton Coast, alternately known as the "Coast of Fury," the film follows a pair of – I'm not making this up – jackass penguins named Lucy and Sam (although the back cover of the DVD inexplicably calls him Louie) against the, and I quote, "dramatic backdrop to a story of life and death struggles where only the strongest can survive."
Which is to say, the filmmakers detail the daily lives of a clutch of South African penguins, complete with all of the hostile struggles that can materialize in a matter of seconds. Penguins Under Siege is narrated by British thespian Kieron Elliott (who, according to a quick check of the Internet Movie Database, has exactly two credits to his name) in a non-stop, densely informative and oh-so-slightly pompous manner that evokes those "Monty Python" parodies – y'know, "the ... larch."
There are a few gorgeously photographed sequences, particularly some of the underwater segments and sun-streaked rugged vistas, but overall, Penguins Under Siege pales in comparison to the polish and grace (not to mention precedence) of March of the Penguins. While nature documentary aficionados will delight in these flightless birds, everyone else would do well to check out the other penguin documentary that had everyone squawking this past summer.
Penguins Under Siege is presented with a very sharp 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. According to the packaging and the scant information I could find online, the film was shot in high-def, although some scenes betray a little artifacting and softness.
Kieron Elliott's dulcet tones are reproduced with warmth and bass on the Dolby 2.0 stereo soundtrack, as are the natural sounds. A film that aches for an immersive Dolby Digital 5.1 track, Penguins Under Siege nevertheless sounds almost as good as it looks.
No bonus material is included.
An attempt to cash in on March of the Penguins mania, Penguins Under Siege is a boilerplate nature film that's beautifully photographed but narratively, a little starchy. Nature documentary nuts will gobble this flick up, but everyone else can skip it. Rent it.