Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23
  1. 100
    Essential viewing not just for those fascinated by adventure, exploration and survival, but for anyone interested in the magic of leadership.
  2. A remarkable documentary about an almost unfathomable ordeal.
  3. Reviewed by: Loren King
    100
    Butler's approach is subtle: His documentary allows the story to unfold elegantly, without embellishment, and it is more powerful for that restraint.
  4. Even knowing the happy outcome, Butler masterfully keeps us on the edge of our seats, and communicates the full horror and seeming hopelessness of the crew's situation every step of the way.
  5. Reviewed by: Douglas Cruickshank
    90
    The film is a pleasure, which the real thing was not. It's also a chilling adventure and a compelling story from beginning to end.
  6. Not only relates the astounding story of the expedition and its unimaginable hardships, it presents a thoughtful study of a time when there were adventurers who might actually respond to an advertisement reading "Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold . . ."
  7. The nail-biting quality of Shackleton's true story outdoes any dramatic fiction on the market.
  8. 90
    It's an amazing story, but, in addition to its intrinsic interest, the Shackleton expedition has another remarkable draw: Crewman Frank Hurley had brought along not only still cameras, but a movie camera as well, providing us with an extraordinary record of the ship's voyage.
  9. Never devolves into the type of “man's man” adventure story that has become so fashionable again over the last couple of years, but instead trusts the power of its unembellished images and words to tell its tale.
  10. 88
    What made Shackleton's adventure so immediate to later generations was that he took along a photographer, Frank Hurley, who shot motion picture film and stills.
  11. 80
    Documentarian George Butler ("Pumping Iron") wisely opted to stick to the cold, hard facts of the expedition's tale while layering in warmer material, like interviews with historians and descendants of the crew and narrator Liam Neeson's lilting bedtime-story delivery.
  12. Butler used several elements to make this story come alive, starting with that vintage Frank Hurley footage, whose rescue from icy waters is in itself something of a miracle.
  13. The tale, in any case, is so gripping, so full of improbable turns and agonizing reversals that it bears repeating, and Mr. Butler and Ms. Alexander tell it straightforwardly and well.
  14. Reviewed by: Joe Leydon
    80
    Conveys enough of the stirring true-life drama recounted in Butler's other Shackleton docu to satisfy ticketbuyers who demand substance even in larger-than-life entertainment.
  15. 80
    An engrossing chronicle.
  16. 80
    Without becoming manipulative, sensational, or trite, the movie lets us know what became of the animals -- many dogs and one stowaway cat -- on the ill-fated ship.
  17. 75
    If Shackleton's adventure was to be the swan song for those 19th century explorers whose exploits stirred the imagination of young men around the globe, it was a magnificent way to say farewell.
  18. The combination of the ancient tinted footage and Butler's crisp, sweeping vistas of the same areas provides a breathtaking recap of one of history's most stirring rescues.
  19. Makes for the most thrilling action movie of the year.
  20. Reviewed by: Ed Park
    60
    Still enigmatic is the figure of Shackleton himself. The film conveys his remarkable leadership without explaining (beyond a because-it's-there romanticism) what would compel such a journey in the first place.
  21. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    50
    This is a curious example of taking a hair-raising story and draining the drama from every corner, leaving it a bit flat and ultimately forgettable.

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