African Cats is a family-friendly documentary about lions and cheetahs that kids will find entertaining, while at the same time informing them about the lives of animals living in the wild.
In order to evoke sympathy and understanding for both kids and adults alike, the animals are described using human emotions and characteristics and focus on a few of the animals featured, giving them names and backgrounds.
A lot of the film is dramatized for effect, but the information is still there and it is presented well.
The film focuses on a young lion cub named Mara who is being raised by her mother, Layla, and Fang, the leader of the pride defending his family from other lion prides. The other family featured is a mother cheetah named Sita who is raising five newborns. The mother cheetah spends most of her life in solitude and must navigate the pride lands with minimal help, while trying to keep her five newborn cubs safe.
The lion pride has a very different setup. Fang is the leader of the pride, with many female lions raising their cubs. Fang must protect his pride from other male lions who are looking to take over and drive Fang away.
The film is extremely informative and stays focused throughout. By the end of the film, you feel like you have caught a glimpse into the lives of these animal and feel good about their survival. It is interesting to see how different species live very different lives, while still sharing the same space.
Samuel L. Jackson narrates the documentary and his voice over isn't distracting, nor does it take away from the images of the animals -- he simply compliments the images by explaining what is going on. Since, as the audience, we cannot see everything the filmmakers saw while making the documentary, Jackson's narration explains a lot of the background information.
The filming itself is incredible and the shots are very diverse, which isn't simple since the filmmakers can't walk right up to the animals in the Savannah. The shots include wide shot, close ups, and interesting movements from the animals, which helps create an overall picture of how they live.
Even though African Cats is made by Disney, it's not all positive images, there are some very sad moments in the film that is part of the circle of life and it helps create a realistic picture of how these animals live.
Although Jackson helps create an overall picture with his narration, part of the dialogue is a little too dramatic and it evokes some questions as to how anyone would know what the animals are thinking. In trying to create drama and personalize the experience, it sometimes comes across as forced and unrealistic.
Overall, African Cats is an entertaining and interesting documentary about the animals we share our planet with. It is a great reminder that we are not the only ones who walk the earth and we share it with some truly magnificent creatures.