Disneynature 3- The Crimson Wing

crimsonwingLast night I watched the 2nd Disneynature film (my 3rd review) called The Crimson Wing and found myself getting emotional over the plights of flamingos.  Yep, this movie really got to me more than either of the Disneynature films I have seen (Monkey Kingdom and Earth).

Unlike Earth which split its time between 3 animal families Crimson looks at a species of flamingos that inhabit a series of lakes in Tanzania.  These lakes have bizarre properties which happen to be just right for flamingos.  The movie approaches their entire existence as a ‘mystery’ and lays out the pieces of how they are able to survive .

crimsonwing6It starts out with drinking in the red algae. The water looks red with the algae and that is what makes the flamingos pink. It’s so different and beautiful and the cinematography throughout is stunning. I can’t imagine how many hours in a boat or sitting out on blazing hot salt flats they must have done to get some of their shots.  They also don’t resort too time lapse as a gimmick like they did in Earth.  This feels like a man standing in the water with a camera watching things happen.  Amazing.

crimson11I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a place that changes so rapidly.  The sun is so hot that large sections of the lake dry up and there remains red salt beds that the flamingos use to nest. It was really fun to learn about a place that was completely foreign to me.  I’ve never heard of these lakes and they were so different than any other natural phenom I’ve ever seen.  I mean look at this crazy weird lake in the photo below.

crimson12The narration read by Mariella Frostrup (who sounded to me like Cate Blanchett) tries to give a haunting quality and tell a mystery and sometimes it works and other times it feels very cheesy like we are touring Middle Earth instead of Tanzania.  Where it does work is the sections involving the little baby chicks that are sooo cute!

crimsonwing3You can see in the photo above the piles of salt they nest on and they move around and chirp like adorable little birds they are.

But wait there is evil about! (literally in the movie the predator is referred to as the Wicked Witch of the lake).  There are the villainous marabou who I sincerely hated so much.  They were so creepy and stood around the pack waiting for the little birds to get separated and pounce!

crimsonwing-09You probably think I’m joking but I was upset for the little chicks . The way they do it is very absorbing.  They show the little chicks who aren’t strong enough get ‘shackles of salt’ around their little legs and they try to walk away from the marabou but the salt weighs them down.

If this doesn’t tug at your heartstrings than we need to talk…

Some are so weighed down when the group leaves the lake they can’t keep up and are left.  The film shows them trying to get up and then falling and I was seriously upset! A side of me wanted to yell at the filmmakers and tell them to help the bird and get that salt off but I guess that isn’t their job. I may have even shed a tear….

crimsonwing2The flamingos are stunning and the team does a great job showing the scope of the thousands of birds and then time with one or two although they are not given names like Maya in Monkey Kingdom nor do we see a real social structure like MK has.

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When the chicks are a little bigger they move to a more traditional part of the lake and there we get evil spotted hyenas picking off the weak and elderly birds!

crimsonwing8Some are killed and their bones are left to become part of the red lake and the salt when it changes again and the flamingos migrate elsewhere.  It shows these bones of the bird through time and the little chick with the salt shackles that are left behind.

crimsonwing4Of the 3 Disneynature films I’ve seen Crimson Wing is my favorite.  I was so absorbed in the story of these flamingos and their lake which changes so rapidly.  There were moments watching it that I was legitimately concerned even sad at the plight of the salt shackled chicks and the mean marabou.

Very sensitive kids (or adults…) might get a little upset at these scenes and the way the narration and music build milk all the emotion they can out of them.

Here is the trailer:

The music is listed as ‘by The Cinematic Orchestra and Claseria” and it is very good.  In fact, they said in my reading that pieces of the orchestration have been used in other movies as recently as The Theory of Everything.

I think most kids will find Crimson Wing fascinating and engaging and adults will get drawn in as well.  I’m surprised I had never even heard of it because it was great! It’s just such an interesting lake with its beautiful birds and their cute little chicks.  If you loved March of the Penguins you will ove this.  It’s great!

Overall Grade- A+  Marabou however are now part of my Disney villains!. 😉

Disneynature 2- Earth

earthAfter reviewing Monkey Kingdom, Disney’s most recent Disneynature effort I am going back and starting at the beginning with their first film Earth.

Unlike Monkey Kingdom which tells a single narrative of Maya, Earth tells 3 stories but doesn’t give names or that kind of thing.  It’s more of a traditional nature documentary.

As the poster might imply Earth follows animals from different parts of the earth, mainly polar bears, humback whales and elephants, for a year.  It was filmed along with the Planet Earth project which aired on the Discovery Channel.

earth2It starts out in the Arctic with some adorable polar bears and 2 new cubs.  She must find food for herself and the cubs and the ice is melting.  The Papa polar bear is lost trying to get food.

earth3Then we go to Africa and follow a herd of elephants.  They have cute little baby elephants and have to find water and keep the babies safe from lions.  It’s pretty intense really when lions corner a lone elephant and all attack it.

earth5The last set is the whales who must travel 4000 miles to find new feeding grounds with all kinds of challenges.

In between these 3 main stories we get smaller stories of birds, sea lions, dolphins, caribou and possibly the worlds cutest animal penguins.

earth4Watching Earth is a pretty amazing experience and it did fill me with awe at the Earth God has created.  It’s so diverse and beautiful.  However, this film does not sugarcoat the realities of these species lives.  I was surprised how much preying and attacks they did.  Some kids might be upset seeing a wolf kill a caribou or what happens with the polar bear Dad or the elephant that gets attacked.  It depends on the kid but I would have probably found that upsetting.

If you hate nature documentaries and find them boring than this is not the one that will convert you.  It does drag in sections and with James Earl Jones doing the narration it feels very old school nature documentary.  I didn’t mind it but it’s not for everyone. It certainly is a natural choice with his iconic voice especially when we see lions.

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Some of the details felt a little bit dated to me like the time lapse photography.  I think that was really mind blowing in 2007 but it doesn’t hold the same grip in 2015 and they use the technique a lot.  Some of their global warming science also is a little bit dated; although, certainly a good message for kids to hear.

I think there are some kids that will absolutely love this, mainly for the visual beauty and not the storytelling.  Same with adults actually.  If you don’t require a plot and just like seeing all these animals and learning about them than you’ll enjoy it.  If that sounds really dull to you it will be.  Simple as that.   And like I said some of the scenes might be upsetting to small or sensitive children.

As with all Disneynature movies the ending showing how they got shots including a collision with a tree while riding a gyrocopter type device was pretty amazing.  There’s scenes where lions and bears try to follow them and the crew looks scared.  I’d be scared!  They certainly have guts at Disneynature!

Here’s the trailer.

Disneynature 1: Monkey Kingdom

monkey kingdomFor my Disneynature reviews I am going to review the current film Monkey Kingdom and then go back and review the previous films, so it will be a little bit out of synch but it makes the  most sense to me.

This weekend Disneynature releases Monkey Kingdom about the toque macaques (or monkeys) of Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka.  The lead monkey is named Maya and is at the bottom of the monkey class divisions.

monkey kingdom mayaThe monkey clan is quite the totalitarian regime with a strict hierarchy led by Raja and a trio of sisters who boss everyone around and take all the good warm sleeping spots.

monkey kingdom3Monkey Kingdom follows the clan for entire year and has a lot of monkey eating, grooming, and sleeping.  The variety of food the monkeys eat surprised me a little bit and how rigid the social structure seemed to be (if you believe the movie at least which I have no other knowledge about monkeys to say otherwise).

There is a point where they even swim to get food!  Who knew that monkeys could swim! We also get glimpses of other animals both predators and friendly folks like elephants and squirrels. They even branch into human world and the big city for a stretch which is a lot of fun.

Tina Fey is the narrator and she does an okay job.  I’m not normally her  biggest fan but it works for the cute monkeys.  Normally we expect someone with gravitas for such narration but I liked her motherly warmth for Maya’s story.

Here is the trailer to give you a better idea.

Monkey Kingdom is an engaging story that is simple enough for kids to understand and shouldn’t bore their parents.  Plus it is a cute way to explain complex social orders and the way we treat those of other classes through the examples of the monkeys.  It also may give kids an appreciation for the effort it really takes to do the basics of provide food and shelter.  Plus, the monkeys are just so darn cute (and they do give us a ‘hey, hey, we’re the monkeys’ musical number).

monkey kingdom5

Director Mark Linfield and cinematographers Martyn Colbeck and Gavin Thurston give us a lush beautiful look into the monkey habitat and the film could be appreciated on silence just for the gorgeous earth visuals.

monkey kingdom4

As with all the Disneynature films Disney will donate a portion of proceeds to charitable causes.  For Monkey Kingdom they will go to Conservation International.

Overall Grade- B (wasn’t anything super exciting to worthy an A but a solid effort).

New Project Poll Results

Last week I set up a poll asking you my readers to vote for the next series of reviews you would like me to do.  Thank you to all who voted and I must say the responses surprised me a little bit.


The top 5 are

5.  with 5% of vote- The Best of Simpsons Series

4. with 5.75% of vote- Studio Ghibli Series

3. with 8.05% of vote- Hitchcock Series

2. with 10.34% of vote- Disney Nature Documentary Series

and the clear winner

1. with 18.39% of vote- Pixar Films and Shorts Series

Any surprises for you?  I’m not surprised by Pixar winning especially with Inside Out coming out in June.  But I was surprised with Disney Nature getting the second spot.  I think it should be pretty easy for me to do both as there are only 14 Pixar films and 8 Disney nature and it will be perfect as both have releases in the next 2 months. I’m excited!

I’m not sure how to structure the Pixar reviews because I am a huge fangirl.  Honestly I would give all but 3 an A. How interesting is that to read about me gush about movie after movie?  If you guys have any guidance or suggestions about how I could make them interesting I would love to hear.

So Pixar and Disney Nature it is.  Thanks again and I look forward to some fun blogging in the future. disney nature