Chasing Ice



Beautiful, affecting documentary about glacier retreat.
  • Review Date: April 4, 2013
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 74 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The issue of global warming is subject to heated debate in the public and political forums, and this documentary is intentionally one-sided. Balog's passionate claims are hard to deny in light of his photographic evidence, but opponents might find holes in his conclusions. Either way, the movie raises important points and encourages discussion about environmental issues.

Positive role models

Balog's heart is in the right place, and he's tireless in his efforts to bring attention to what he considers to be a dangerous natural predicament. The extreme elements make his work hazardous, but he takes the risk out of a sense of responsibility toward humans' need to know the truth.


A small set of photos shows bloody animal carcasses strung up for gutting and skinning.

Not applicable

Very rarely "s--t," "fricking," and "Jesus Christ" as an exclamation.


Visible logos for Shell Oil, Apple computers, and TED.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Chasing Ice is an award-winning documentary about the work of celebrated photographer James Balog in tracking glacier retreat. It introduces scientific terms related to climate change and presents one side of the global warming debate, aiming to convince viewers of the looming threat of warming temperatures. There are moments of anger, frustration, and sadness as the subjects brave harsh elements and technological failures to complete their work, but the lengths to which they will go for the truth is inspiring. Language ("s--t," "fricking," "Jesus Christ") is minimal, as are viewers' exposure to scenes of splayed and bloody animal carcasses being prepared after a hunt.

What's the story?

As the debate over global warming rages, the world's glaciers are shrinking at a rapid rate, leaving rivers and rising water levels in their wake. CHASING ICE chronicles the arduous work of National Geographic photographer James Balog and his team to document the decline of some of the world's most massive glaciers in Greenland and Alaska. Using a series of cutting-edge automated cameras positioned around vulnerable areas, Balog's Extreme Ice Survey creates time-lapse evidence of the retreat of these ancient ice masses.

Is it any good?


This stellar documentary devotes more time to following the ups and downs of Balog's quest than it does to lecturing viewers on the dangers of fossil fuels, but its ultimate message is clear: Global warming is causing glaciers to disappear at a frightening rate, and the effects on the world's population could be devastating. He makes a firm case for his claims, presenting remarkable photographic evidence of ice masses -- some nearly as large as Manhattan -- succumbing to the elements and being lost forever to the sea. Whatever your stance on the climate change debate, this film is well worth watching, and Balog's passion for his life's work is inspiring.

Chances are your kids won't find Chasing Ice's subject matter particularly fascinating unless they have some familiarity with the issues already, but the opposite is true for older viewers. You'll come away from it thinking hard about the environmental issues that plague our planet and our role in maintaining its well-being for generations to come, which can spark great discussions and possibly take-action projects within your family and community.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about climate change and other environmental issues. Balog presents one side of the argument, but what is the other? On which side of the fence do you fall? Can you find fault with any of the subjects' findings?

  • Explore the nature of propaganda. Who uses it and for what purpose? Is any information that we get through media sources entirely reliable? Why or why not?

  • What small changes can your family make to be more environmentally conscious? What kind of an impact would it have if your community got on board as well? Is this something the government should mandate? 

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 22, 2013
DVD release date:September 10, 2013
Cast:James Balog
Director:Jeff Orlowski
Studio:National Geographic
Topics:Science and nature
Run time:74 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:brief strong language

This review of Chasing Ice was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old May 11, 2013


Very Good Has some language but show to your kids 11+
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing
Teen, 14 years old Written bySwim3456 May 6, 2014

I don't believe in global warming, but interesting film

The documentary Chasing Ice was interesting, but I don't really believe in this whole Global warming thing, so. The whole picture aspect was really interesting.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byCSM Screen name... June 8, 2014

Chasing Ice: Ok?

I believe that Chasing Ice is good for kids 11 and up. The reason for this is in the movie some people curse when they get upset. There are also some intense scenes where they are in difficult life/death situations.
What other families should know
Great messages


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