Disneynature Ranking

Hi guys!  So I have finished reviewing the Disneynature films!  It has been such an amazing experience to see God’s creation in all their variety and order.  I’ve learned a lot, been entertained and inspired.  But I know you are dying to know now that I have seen all 8 how do they rank?  First of all, they all have incredible cinematography and what these people do to get these images is unbelievable.  They risk their lives to keep all of us and especially children aware of these animals.  That is worthy of the strongest praise.  All of them are worthy of integration into the classroom and could be valuable parts of any home library.

But here is my ranking of the films.

wings of life28. Wings of Life–  bugs just aren’t that cute and I didn’t learn that much about the bees or bee crisis.  The only one I would say was kind of boring although Meryl Streep is good as the narrator.


7. Earth– more like a nature documentary for television.  No real narrative but full of amazing images so I enjoyed watching it.  Some of the global warming stuff feels a little dated and heavy-handed although a very important message for kids.


6. Oceans– again no narrative and more like a documentary you’d see on PBS or Animal Planet but I love the ocean so it was very interesting.  I just like the one’s with a little bit more story added in.  Like Earth it feels a little dated and preachy at times.

african cats5. African Cats– this one has amazing images but the narration is a little corny and it can get kind of brutal at times with lions hunting and eating zebras and antelope.  It could be upsetting for preschool age children.  It’s also a little bit too long.

monkey kingdom4. Monkey Kingdom– a very sweet story of Maya and her little monkey baby.  I liked Tina Fey and it will provide a good learning opportunity when kids see the different social classes within the monkey tribe.  Maya is on the bottom of the class structure so she is kept from doing many things and life is harder.  It is the movie which seemed the most staged to me especially the birthday party but I still enjoyed it.


3. Bears– this is the most child-friendly of the films with a bear and her cubs trying to get food, catch fish (basically the bear necessities!).  There is a wolf that gives a few tense moments but nothing compared to African Cats.  It’s not as slow moving as the more traditional films (Earth, Oceans, Wings of Life etc).  It has a narrative kids will like and the bears are really cute.

Chimpanzee2. Chimpanzee– this is a cool movie because you can tell the outcome surprised the filmmakers which is the grandest part of nature.  They are ready to close up shop when the mother chimpanzee dies and out of the blue another male chimpanzee decides to care for the little chimp.  Even Jane Goodall is amazed at what happens.  She says it is highly unusual for male chimps.  It could be staged but it doesn’t feel so.  It is such a huge part of the movie and there are so many interviews and stories that I believe it happened.  What they had to go through to make this movie is unbelievable and to hear Goodall talk about the experience gave an authenticity that none of the other Disneynature films have.  I sometimes wish they would use a little bit more science but I understand they are trying to tell stories and inspire kids.

crimsonwing1.  Crimson Wing- I found out after watching this movie it wasn’t released in theaters!!!  Shocking because it was my favorite by a fairly wide margin.  I was totally invested in the story of the flamingos in Tanzania.  It was such a different environment I have never heard of before with the pink lake with algae, salt flats and beautiful flamingos.  The little birds were so cute and as some of them struggled with the salt shackles I got upset.  It is set up like a mystery.  The mystery of the lake, flamingos and everything else.  I liked that and it really got to me! I wanted the cameramen to help the poor little birds, but I know why they couldn’t.  It was all so new and different and even though they didn’t give names to the birds there was a narrative.  It was good vs evil with the evil Macaques  preying on the weak and lonely.  It was so different, beautiful, inspiring and absorbing.  The score on Crimson Wing was also the best out of all the Disneynature films.

Here’s a video I did of the ranking

So that is the Disneynature films!  Have you seen any of them? What do you think?  Which are your favorites?  Please put in the comments section.

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.

crimson wing13

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!. 😉