By: Oberst von Berauscht (Three Beers) –
Disney Nature’s latest documentary tells the story of two families living in the grassy savannahs of Kenya. The first is a family of Cheetahs, in which the mother is raising five cubs on her own. The other family is a pride of Lions, who take a more communal approach to living. The film chronicles the trials and dangers facing both groups as they struggle for survival.
One is left to wonder whether Ninjas were employed in the making of this movie.
It is beyond my comprehension how these cameramen were able to get so close to these cats without disturbing them. African Cats features beautifully shot scenes of wildlife in action, on the hunt, and fending off other predators. They also manage to capture these creatures in their most private moments to provide the audience with a truly unique experience. Filmmakers Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey should be commended for the skill with which they crafted the filmed material into a cohesive whole. Also (for the most part) Samuel L. Jackson’s narration is authoritative and lively. His commentary keeps you connected to the footage and helps to build a further sense of curiosity.
I’d like to have seen him find a way to call someone a motherfucker though.
As interesting as the material is, it still felt difficult to sit through at times. This is mostly due to the fact that 90 minutes is a hell of a long time to tell such a simple story. The other major release nature film right now, the IMAX film Born to be Wild 3D, also juggled two small stories, but that clocked in at about 40 minutes (and it still managed to take its time to appreciate the small moments). Also, they still don’t like to show us the uglier side of these animals, as every hunting scene ends with a quick cutaway to spare the audience a taste of what it really means to be a wild animal. It seems like Disney Nature is comfortable with the youth of America growing up to believe that Lions and Cheetahs are just really big LOLcats.
Next time, you iz Cheezeburger
Even if Samuel L. Jackson’s narration is generally strong, he is given some pretty ridiculous dialog to read. Instead of providing interesting facts, the filmmakers want to tell us a story that humanizes the animals. While it can be argued that it gives the younger audience a way to relate to the images he sees, it also encourages us to have less fear and respect for these wild creatures. What is more, it encourages fur fandom.
Invoking Rule #34 has rarely been more worrying…
If Disney wants the average child to see Simba or Mufasa whenever they see a Lion they’ll never really learn the circle of life.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for gratuitous use of slow motion
Take a Drink: Anytime an animal crosses the river
Down a shot: WTF Aardvarks?