First things first: happy Earth Day, everyone! I hope everyone has an opportunity to get outside today and celebrate this wild and wonderful planet of ours. As we told you in the April edition of “Hot Topic” in OWL, more than one billion people in 192 countries will be celebrating right along with you.
Also, speaking of “wild,” I caught the new Disneynature documentary, African Cats, at a preview screening earlier this week. It’s the third in a series of Earth Day-released flicks (following on Earth and Oceans), and I’m here to share some thoughts.
The movie follows two sets of African cats who live on opposite sides of a long, winding river. On one side, a lone mother cheetah struggles to feed and raise cubs. On the other, a pride of lions reign supreme with the power of numbers — until a roaming and powerful pack of male lions moves in to threaten them.
Here are a few observations about the movie:
1) It’s intimate. While the other two movies in the Disneynature series spanned the globe to take a close-up look at many different locales, this film takes place in a single national park in Africa. There are some guest stars (hippos, warthogs, hyenas, and, my personal favourite, wildebeests), but this movie is all about the cats, their lives, and their relationships.
2) It’s dramatic. The filmmakers (along with narrator Samuel L. Jackson) go to great lengths to give the lions and cheetahs personalities and explain their troubles and predicaments, which really helps viewers understand the tough lives these animals live. The hunting scenes are particularly tense, especially when food is short. That said…
3) It’s not too gory. Some animal films can get a little too close to the bloodier aspects of animal lives, but this film treads a fine line — for instance, it focuses a little more on the chase of the hunt than it does on the actual capture, and it avoids showing detail on the lion-vs- lion fighting. This makes for an easier and decidedly more kid-friendly viewing experience.
Overall, I thought African Cats was pretty good. I think I prefer the sweeping grandeur of Earth and Oceans, but the footage here was still fantastic and it had a lot of its own charm as well.
Also, one last important note: for those looking for something special to do for Mother’s Day (reminder: it’s only 18 days away!), you might consider catching this flick with Mom. There’s a lot in here about the unbreakable bond of mother cats and their cubs.
Have a great weekend!