Sometimes I realize that amidst the bombast and craziness of action films, drams, comedies (romantic or otherwise), thrillers, animated, and “based on a true story” movies, it IS truly nice to be able to simply go to a theater and enjoy a good old fashioned documentary-style offering….usually narrated by a well-known voice (paging Mr. Freeman and Mr. Baldwin), and featuring some spectacular views of the world around us. For me, this genre of film just lets me relax and soak in the simplicity, yet COMPLEXITY, of nature and its myriad of incredible forms of life. Disneynature produces some of the BEST movies of this ilk, and their most recent offering is no exception. Therefore, I give you Disneynature’s “Bears”.
Directed and produced by arguably one the premier teams in nature documentaries, Alastair Fothergill & Keith Scholey (who have given us such epic glimpses into the natural world through films such as “Earth“, “Deep Blue“, “Chimpanzee“, and “African Cats” plus TV mini-series events like “Planet Earth” and “Frozen Planet“), this time they start us out in the heart of Alaska’s mountains within Katmai National Park as a mother Brown bear, Sky, is awaking from hibernation with her two new cubs, Amber and Scout. From the first moments of emerging from the snow covered mountainside den, to the initial journey toward the land and newly emerged coastlines below, the two young cubs already face one of nature’s most difficult challenges….to simply survive. And so the journey begins across the mountains, ever under the threat of avalanches as the Winter snow is giving way to Spring. Their goal…to make it to the Alaskan shores where the ultimate prize will await…food in the form of salmon returning to the river of their birth to spawn. And it IS all about time, as Sky must be able to eat enough and retain fat to keep her milk flowing for when the following Winter arrive sand hibernation is needed once again. Hence the story that follows takes us on a 12-month adventure with this new family, covering every season as it comes and goes, all the while getting us a look at the playful, curious cubs as they learn about the world around them, even as Sky has to do everything she can to not just try and feed them and herself, but protect them from the dangers that await, which is everything from a very persistent wolf, to a rogue male Brown bear, to the ALPHA male Brown bear of the territory, all of whom have potential designs to harm her offspring in the hungry state they are ALL in after the Winter months. And this story unfolds along with other varied scenes and moments with other members of the wildlife community that share the over 5 million acres of protected wildlife reserve they inhabit.
Now, I freely admit, my heart melts watching material like this. At MINIMUM, I don’t think there’s anyone who won’t immediately let out the audible “awww!!” when you first see Amber and Scout, as they are just CUTE as all get out. In fact, as you would expect from the masters of sentimentality (both through imagery AND the accompanying musical score) at Disney, there are PLENTY of those moments to be had with this feature. And it blows my mind to just really realize the TIME and PATIENCE and dedication these cinematographers and producers take to capture the images they do. Alaska just comes to life in this, especially on a big screen, and frankly, it’s overwhelming to watch, because the majesty of it all is SO beautiful and awe-inspiring. Amber and Scout are SO much fun to watch and listen to, acting JUST like, well, KIDS! Plus, as this is a very family-friendly film, you still cannot help but be just as taken by even the confrontational situations Sky has with other bears and potential threats, and just being able to witness nature in action as a whole….it can make you feel kinda small in many regards. But again, that’s the magic of it all. And hey, I teared up multiple times during this as well, as this look into a world that most of us might NEVER see in person is that potent if you open up to the sheer scope of what you’re witnessing. Honestly not trying to be over-dramatic here, it’s just the truth. And the narration this time was actually NOT done by the one we usually come to expect, Morgan Freeman, but rather the LAST person I guess I would have thought about doing a voiceover for Disneynature (given the nature (ha ha…ok cheap one) of his usual films, anyway. No offense to fans, just sayin’), John C. Reilly. And he does a really great job. Keeps things light mostly, but does effectively bring out the more tense times as well, again much assisted by the superb musical score underneath it all, which was by the accomplished composer George Fenton. Another amazing entry for the Disneynature team without question.
As always, this is all for YOUR consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!