March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step Movie Poster Image
Another beautiful, fascinating penguin docu; some peril.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 85 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Docu shows the fascinating behaviors of Emperor penguins during mating rituals, how parents care for their young and prepare them for survival in Antarctica. Mentions the impact global climate change is having on their marches to the sea. 

Positive Messages

We must take care of the earth and manage global warming so that the penguins will continue to survive in the future.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The penguin parents work together to raise their young.

Violence & Scariness

Some nature documentary violence; e.g., birds of prey attacking and trying to kill younger Emperor penguins. 

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step is the sequel to the Oscar-winning 2005 documentary. Those who loved the original will find much to love here: There's lots of stunning footage of the mating rituals and child-rearing practices of Emperor penguins. The impact that global climate change is having on the penguins' march to the sea as the sea ice continues to melt is mentioned. And while the Morgan Freeman-narrated film does deliver dire warnings that if current sea ice melting trends continue, the Emperor penguins will be extinct by the end of the 21st century, such warnings never feel heavy-handed or preachy. Be ready for some nature documentary peril/violence -- for example, birds of prey attack and try to kill younger Emperor penguins.

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What's the story?

MARCH OF THE PENGUINS 2: THE NEXT STEP revisits the Emperor penguins of Antarctica over 10 years later. It explores the bonds between fathers and their children while the mothers, after producing eggs, go to the water in search of the food they need to reinvigorate their health. The fathers protect the eggs, care for the baby penguins when they hatch, and then must strike a balance between protecting the newborns and venturing into the ocean in search of food. Over time, the offspring must learn to defend themselves against birds of prey, and eventually strike forth on their own. As if the lives of the newly hatched Emperor penguins weren't challenging enough in the harsh Antarctic climate -- only one in 10 of those who hatch at the same time make it to adulthood -- their challenges are further complicated by global climate change. In fact, as the film ominously warns, if the Antarctic sea ice continues to melt at its present rate, the Emperor penguins will be extinct by the end of the century. 

Is it any good?

More of an update and companion piece than sequel, this documentary is a welcome addition. While much of the content is reminiscent of the original Oscar-winning movie, that is by no means a bad thing. The visually stunning camerawork -- in the air, on the ice, in the water -- is once again nothing short of incredible. Morgan Freeman's narration strikes a balance between conveying the harsh and unforgiving climate of Antarctica and playfully humanizing the penguins in their unique behaviors, ensuring that the film continues to have the universal appeal that the first one had. 

Of course, comparisons to the first March of the Penguins will be inevitable, and like nearly all sequels, March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step isn't better than the original. Some of the content -- the marching to the sea, for instance -- isn't much different from the first. But considering that a film like this has so much to offer at a time when the fate of Emperor penguins hangs in the balance, the filmmakers could make more sequels to this than there are Friday the 13th sequels in existence, and we'd all be better for it. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about nature documentaries. How does March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step compare to other nature documentaries you've seen? 

  • How does the penguins' behavior compare to the behavior of humans and human families? How did this help make the penguins relatable? 

  • What did you learn from this movie? How could you learn more?

  • The penguin parents work as a team to care for their young. When have you been on a team? What did you contribute? How does everyone contributing make the team strong?

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