This review is very exciting because it is has been 2 years since my last Disneynature review! Back in 2015 I reviewed the Disneynature canon finishing off with Bears. It was a lot of fun so I anxiously awaited their next release this year’s Born in China. Fortunately, the wait was worth while as this is a charming entry in this series of nature documentaries.
The last Disneynature release was 2015’s Monkey Kingdom which is one of the weaker entries as much felt staged but it still was entertaining. However, I was glad to see Born in China get back to more authentic feeling animal footage. In this case we are following 3 animals in China- a giant panda, golden snub-nosed monkey and snow leopard.
The word to describe Born in China is adorable. Nearly everything about this movie is adorable. The animals are so cute and the story they create is very charming.
Some people might think it is a bit cloying with the narration by John Krasinski but I like how they create stories and characters (as long as it isn’t too staged like Monkey Kingdom).It keeps the nature documentary from getting boring because we have a story to draw us in. Yes, sometimes they go a little bit too far with the narration but I still enjoy it.
We follow these animals for an entire year and see the cycle of their lives. This does include some sobering realities but never too long. It shouldn’t be traumatic for kids. African Cats is the most traumatic of these Disneynature films.
The cinematography and footage they are able to get is remarkable. Especially in the leopard footage I couldn’t help but wonder how they kept themselves safe with these fierce animals that are very hungry! It’s amazing how close up to the animals they get. I realize that is from lenses but still it is very impressive.
Disneynature gives a portion of this week’s ticket sales to conservation efforts so if you can see it go to the theater. It will be a good experience for the entire family and would make a great family home evening. The kids in my theater were eating it up responding with big gasps and awes throughout the film.
I wouldn’t say Born in China is my favorite Disneynature film. That is still Crimson Wing and Chimpanzee but it is still very enjoyable and worth seeing.
Overall Grade- B+
Here is my youtube review. I would love if you took a look and gave it thumbs up.
Now we get our next entry in the Disneynature Canon and it is all about those bugs you swat away or are afraid might sting you. It is called Wings of Life and it is mostly focused on butterflies and bees.
I must admit to being a little disappointed in this film. I went into it with high hopes because I find the subject of bees and the bee crisis to be very interesting. I don’t know if this just is too old (released in 2011 so not that long ago…) or they didn’t think kids would like that kind of discussion but it is sorely missed.
The movie is narrated by Merly Streep and she is good but it is told from the point of view of the flowers which is a little ridiculous and there just isn’t that much personality in a flower or a bee. Animals from the ocean, monkeys, or flamingos have way more expression in their faces and you can get more of a narrative.
In Wings of Life you get a lot of time lapse photography showing the flowers opening up and its ok but I grew a little tired of it after a while. The cinematography is beautiful and I did learn a little bit but it could have been a lot more informative. Maybe part is the problem is it is only insects where the other documentaries I’ve seen on the bee crisis has had experts talking about the problem. That would have been more interesting to me. It’s also too long. Insects don’t have a 77 minute draw, at least for me. An insects life is pretty simple- pollinate, mate, protect and die. It’s not that compelling for 77 minutes. Plus, insects up close and personal are kind of gross looking. Not all cute and adorable like a monkey or a baby flamingo.
The two best segments are about the bats in the dessert which get nectar from cactus blossoms and the Monarch butterflies and their migration. I wish the whole movie had been about the journey of the butterflies. That might have been interesting.
As it is, it is kind of slow and I lost interest. It’s the first of these Disneynature that felt like an old school dry nature documentary. No personality. No pizazz. No real narrative It has some pretty images but I would just look at those online and watch Flamingos instead. That one is still the best of the best.
Plus, I thought the narration from the point of view of the flowers was a little strange and I couldn’t get into it.
Wings of Life tries to send a message about gardening and planting flowers but it is a little too late. I think kids will have already disengage by then and it isn’t any new information for adults so they will be bored.
Overall Grade- C-
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.