Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 21 Ratings

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  • Summary: Werner Herzog confirms his standing as poet laureate of men in extreme situations with Encounters at the End of the World. In this visually stunning exploration, Herzog travels to the Antarctic community of McMurdo Station, headquarters of the National Science Foundation and home to eleven hundred people during the austral summer (Oct-Feb). Over the course of his journey, Herzog examines human nature and Mother nature, juxtaposing breathtaking locations with the profound, surreal, and sometimes absurd experiences of the marine biologists, physicists, plumbers, and truck drivers who choose to form a society as far away from society as one can get. (THINKFilm) Collapse
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. A supremely cranky and lyrical feat.
  3. 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.
  4. Reviewed by: Mark Olsen
    80
    The images captured by Herzog and cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger are dazzling all on their own, finding the disorienting psychedelia that is nature at its weirdest.
  5. An enjoyable example of this extraordinary director's documentary work.
  6. Midway through, an eerier theme creeps in, all the more powerful for Herzog's lack of insistence. By the "end of the world" he means the end of the world.
  7. Creating a hypnotically digressive travelogue, Herzog wanders from soul to soul, asking deceptively mild questions to potent effect.

See all 25 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 8
  2. Negative: 2 out of 8
  1. SydO
    Aug 2, 2008
    10
    Truly and exceptional documentary. Herzog steps beyond the "penguin" side of Antarctica to show the truly mysterious and other worldly goings on of the continent and it's imported inhabitants. His dry humor never lets the film get to caught up in itself. It really is a delight to see. Expand
  2. JS.
    Jun 29, 2008
    10
    Antarctica is as unusual as Herzog's film. Not a drama, yet it is dramatic, neither is it a travelogue or a documentary, though it easily covers all that. The film is a new catagory: metafilm. I just made it up, but it fits. Herzog's film delivers a visceral connect with our place, this blue ball we live on, rolling through an alien sea of darkness we know little about. It's almost as if the world is split into those who have seen it, those who have lived in Antarctica and met realities masked back home on the mall, and those who have not seen it. Such mystery is the grandeur of great filmmakers. Expand
  3. DougN.
    Jul 13, 2008
    9
    Werner Herzog doing his usual thing. Much better than the penguin movie last year. He explores the usual off beat characters, plus the beautiful landscape. Excellent. Expand
  4. NewlandA.
    Jun 28, 2008
    7
    The most interesting part of the film is the collection of odd ducks that populate the South Pole. I could have used more of them and less of the penguins. Good but a bit long. Expand
  5. 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 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. Expand
  6. 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 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. Expand
  7. 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 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.
    Expand

See all 8 User Reviews