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 5: Wings of Life

wings of life2Now 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.

wings olife 5The 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.

wings of life5In 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. wings of life4It’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.

wings of life3As 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-