Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. 100
    It is a poem of oddness and beauty.
  2. The stunning images aren't enough for Herzog, though. He wants us to see how these quirky researchers, in their lust to explore, are acting out a drive as primitive as nature: the need to break away from the world in order to find it.
  3. 100
    Werner Herzog is a stranger in a strange land as soon as he gets out of bed in the morning: in this travelogue of Antarctica, his perverse curiosity and zest for the harshest extremes of nature transform what might have been a standard TV special into an idiosyncratic expression of wonder.
  4. A supremely cranky and lyrical feat.
  5. Like many of Mr. Herzog's movies, fiction and nonfiction, Encounters at the End of the World itself has the quality of a dream: it's at once vivid and vague, easy to grasp and somehow beyond reach.
  6. Takes you places an ordinary documentary filmmaker might’ve gone to yet missed completely.
  7. Through Herzog's eyes it is a desolate, strangely beautiful frozen Edenish hell where the planet, having shaken out its pockets, lets the loners, fanatics and cosmologist-crackpots fall to bottom.
  8. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    88
    A deranged penguin is seen racing toward his certain doom amid the crags of a mountain range. It may not be "Happy Feet," but Herzog has made a penguin movie after all.
  9. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    88
    Does Antarctica attract dreamers or create them? It's a thread that runs throughout the film.
  10. All this is as fascinating as it is humbling, even when Herzog ventures a little too far down eccentricity's back alley.
  11. An engaging and generous profile of the fascinating folks who have chosen to live at the end of the world.
User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 21 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 8
  2. Negative: 2 out of 8
  1. Sep 6, 2010
    2
    I watched this documentary and was appalled that a filmmaker could take a subject matter this interesting into an terrible film. It made veryI watched this documentary and was appalled that a filmmaker could take a subject matter this interesting into an terrible film. It made very little sense and had no real point, despite the filmmakers repeated ham-fisted attempts to relate it to some overarching philosophy. His 'dry sense of humor' as some put it, consisted mainly of him asking scientists insipid questions about gay penguins wasting both their time and mine as a viewer.

    I was even more surprised to see that it had received so many awards and positive reviews.

    The one redeeming feature of this documentary is that it contains some incredible footage, and interviews with some great people which even this hack couldn't entirely destroy.

    When it comes right down to it I would actually recommend this film to people. If you manage to ignore the stupid interviewer and the poor shot selection there is some useful insight into a rarely seen side - not of Antarctica, but of the people who work there.
    Full Review »
  2. AlexH.
    Jan 31, 2009
    3
    It doesn't work as a nature documentary, as it lacks enough footage or information to stand up to Planet Earth, or even your average It doesn't work as a nature documentary, as it lacks enough footage or information to stand up to Planet Earth, or even your average National Geographic documentary. Instead, the movie relies on half-baked philosophical musings, with about as much insight as a stoned guy rambling about humanity's inevitable extinction. Herzog's English is relatively poor, and his linguistic limitations mean he often relies on cliche, and this reveals how trite most of his ideas are. The music is intrusive and often manipulative - especially the choral pieces, which draw obvious cave/cathedral comparisons. For $5, you could rent this film. But for the same price, you could buy a joint, get your buddy stoned, and ask him about his thoughts on life. PASS. Full Review »
  3. HyperS
    Dec 1, 2008
    5
    A documentary of sorts has two goals in my view: 1) Either entertain the audience. 2) Or spark a sense of curiosity and imagination in the A documentary of sorts has two goals in my view: 1) Either entertain the audience. 2) Or spark a sense of curiosity and imagination in the audience and educate them along the way. This film failed to do both. The film was about Antarctica, but you could have renamed it to "Alaska" or "Canada" or even "Colorado" and no one would have known the difference. Heck take a camera into a random apartment complex and interview the tenants and you'd probably get a more entertaining film. The film focused more on the more-often-than-not lackluster researchers on the continent instead of showing the audience the aura of Antarctica. Where are the exotic creatures? Inspiring underwater sequences [all but one in the film]? What no cool ice glacier canyons or anything? We got a few seconds of some Penguins [snore], a couple of starfish [snore], one clam [snore], and one jellyfish [snore]. Oh, but we got to watch them sexually assault a family of seals! I'm a fan of documentaries, but this one has no theme... no point... just random bits glued together and the pace was too slow just waiting... hoping... for anything to peek one's curiosity. I became so bored I began envisioning the narrator as Arnold Schwarzenegger just to pass the time. Save the time and just flip on the Discovery channel and watch Planet Earth or something. In 5 minutes you'll get more than this film has to offer in 1hr 40 mins. Full Review »