Bears (Alastair Fothergill, Keith Scholey, 2014) – While Disneynature and the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund are certainly doing some good things and raising awareness, the yearly documentaries that they end up producing are a mixed bag. Standing alone as a nature documentary, Bears features some amazing photography, but the cutesy narration ends up making the film into something that would bore anyone over the age of six.
Chronicling a year in the life of a bear family, we see the journey of mother bear, Sky, and her cubs, Amber and Scout, as the emerge from a brutal, yet beautiful Alaskan winter. She teaches her cubs, protects them, and most importantly find lots of salmon for them to hurry up and eat since winter will be coming faster then they want to admit.
I’m of two minds when it comes to a movie like Bears. On one hand the visuals are unquestionably impressive and you can’t help but admire the undertaking and technical prowess. However, when you add the kid-centric narration of a usually pretty great actor John C. Reilly it feels like these movies are underestimating their audience.
Co-directors Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey are both veteran hands at this type of filmmaking and watching them shoot the countryside and get detailed, expressive close-ups of these animals makes this something to see. As a nature doc it’s visually engaging and more than a little impressive, however on the flipside of the coin it is a movie that fails to engage outside of some very pretty pictures.
With this being a G rated film, the demographic of this movie is not lost on me. Reilly’s narration is very much akin to how a parent would explain nature to a young child. It never gets too scary, but kudos to Reilly for at least taking somewhat of a serious tone when the action on screen called for it. I can’t help but feel like this is movie is just a missed opportunity to get younger kids into nature and learning about different animals and their habitats.
Bears does exactly what it sets out to do, but for kids in the 21st century, this could have been better.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are obviously amazing. Special features on this combo pack release include a digital copy, four behind the scenes featurettes, and a music video of the movie’s theme song “Carry On” by Olivia Holt. (Dave Voigt)
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