Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 13 Ratings

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  • Summary: In the spring of 2005, acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog headed to the Arctic on a tricky assignment for National Geographic: to capture images to help tell the story of the Earth’s changing climate. Even with a scientific upbringing, Balog had been a skeptic about climate change. But that first trip north opened his eyes to the biggest story in human history and sparked a challenge within him that would put his career and his very well-being at risk.
    Chasing Ice is the story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of our changing planet. (National Geographic Channel)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Nov 8, 2012
    This amazingly beautiful, and amazingly frightening, documentary captures the immediacy of what climate change is doing to the Arctic landscape.
  2. Reviewed by: Neil Genzlinger
    Nov 8, 2012
    The film doesn't just serve up Mr. Balog's amazing and undeniably convincing imagery. It also records his personal struggles as knee problems threaten his ability to hike the difficult terrain to get the shots he wants.
  3. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Nov 8, 2012
    In Hollywood these days, such epic transformations are rendered with computers and called "morphing." Offering a lesson both to filmmakers and climate-change deniers, Chasing Ice demonstrates how much more powerful it is to capture the real thing.
  4. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Nov 14, 2012
    Heart-stopping in its coverage of the brave and risky attempt by a scientist named James Balog and his team of researchers on the Extreme Ice Survey, where "extreme" refers to their efforts almost more than to the ice.
  5. Reviewed by: Chuck Wilson
    Nov 7, 2012
    Still and live-action footage captures the ice sliding into the sea with exquisite grace, which makes it all the more wrenching. Are such images enough to convince the naysayers that something unnatural is occurring? Doubtful.
  6. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Nov 4, 2012
    A documentary so stuffed with eye-soothing images one prays it can seduce a climate-change skeptic or two.
  7. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Nov 23, 2012
    His personal efforts are praiseworthy, but if glacial melting is in fact the "canary in the climate coal mine" (his words), the movie might have given us a bit less of Balog and a bit more of the startling sequences he produced.

See all 15 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Jul 2, 2013
    A film or documentary that will need your fullest attention, not only does James Balog, the photographer whose work is the basis of the film, tell us that we will never see some of the events that his time lapse experiments captured, but the lasting memory is on his memory cards, and this film will live on with you, as clear evidence and concrete proof in visually spectacular yet devastating fashion is shown to the world, proof again that one of the most debated issues of this generation is indeed in full swing, severe climate change.
    James tells us that is background in photography is not really there, but that his degree in geomorphology helped him realise that he had love for science, but not to to a scientist. His funded Extreme Ice Survey expedition consisted of setting up various cameras across the globe including Greenland and Alaska, to create a time lapse of images across months and even years to show just how the ice is disappearing and retreating in such a short space of time, and the visual results are staggering.
    While beauty and spectacle are apparent in James' various images, the message is clear, tangible and simply cannot be ignored, glaciers retreating by miles is unimaginable yet real, and one particular scene where James shows what simply appears to be dirt in his hand, is actually a collection of various gases and algae growing in that particular area, which creates holes in the ice.
    The film also outlines sacrifice, James is close to have a third surgical procedure on his knee, and the content of the documentary aside, his willingness to succeed in his mission really outlines the power of the human mind, put he is also trying so hard to make a point and for people to stand up and listen.
    The most mesmerising part of the film could very well be the final video capture that shows a glacier calving, which, when measured in terms of ratio, was like lower Manhattan, its buildings and landscape, simply falling into the water, gone. This lasted 75 minutes, but the snippets shown in the film where breathtaking, but of course shocking to watch such an event unfold in such short time.
    The film may spur people into action, it may leave many wondering what to do next, but it should amaze and enlighten an ongoing squabble that is very real and very much alive in the ice.
  2. Mar 22, 2014
    Chasing Ice is as strong a documentary as I have ever seen concerning the issues of global warming, and that includes Al Gore’s terrific Oscar winning Inconvenient Truth. It centers on a man named James Balog, a National Geographic photographer, who with a team sets an array of advanced cameras focusing on various glaciers in Greenland, Iceland and Alaska in order to see the change in the ice coverage over periods of months and years. At first the complex and fragile nature of such a program leads to great technical difficulties, but eventually they do get the program on track, and the results are no less than stunning. The film is not overtly political. It begins with a montage of “skeptics” of human caused climate change. Balog, who claims to have himself once been a skeptic, ends up getting deeply involved in the project to the detriment of time with his family and the numerous surgeries he gets on his knees. Throughout the film the science of global warming and it’s general effects on the planet is tiptoed into, but primarily it lets the visuals do the talking. This film is beautiful and disturbing literally at the same time with treks across ice sheets viewing the melting in real time, images of glaciers breaking off into the sea, and the main focus the time-lapse footage. Expand
  3. Nov 28, 2012
    There is no doubt this film is beautiful and powerful. It offers both irrefutable visual evidence of melting glaciers and a brief but impressive bio of National Geographic photographer James Balog. But the focus is blurred when, for example, we balance a global crisis with Balog's ailing knee. The film might have offered a single solution over a non-compliant-patient subplot. That said, it's still worth the price of admission for the photography alone. Expand
  4. Oct 13, 2013
    Visually amazing, but I just kept waiting for the science to come into the movie and it never did. Saw it in Boulder with James Balog in attendance and the only thing I got out of his comments was how proud of himself he was. Expand