In a remarkably short amount of time, Disneynature has managed to establish themselves as a, well, force of nature in the environmentally cinematic documentary world. Their latest, Bears, arrives in time for Earth Day (as most of their titles do) and takes a look at one bear mama and her effort -- against incredible odds -- to raise two cubs on her own in the Alaskan wilderness.
Bears is narrated by John C. Reilly and is directed by filmmakers Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey (Chimpanzee, African Cats). The film is helmed by Disneynature veterans and there appears to be some serious synergy between the nature wing of the Mouse House and Fothergill and Scholey as their pictures keep getting more beautiful, powerful and profound.
Reilly could not have been a better choice to narrate. There’s a light and comic flirtiness to the film that fits his vocal prowess like a bear’s fur coat for a winter’s slumber. But, there are some serious moments here and Reilly can turn his playful tones to solemn and somber on a dime as it fits the story.
Sometimes we think that nature documentarians are some of the most lucky filmmakers on the planet. But, then again, what if they are just that good? There are a million different ways that the Bears story could have gone -- just watch the Bears trailer and that’s easy to see. But, this is a film that is from Disneynature and as such, there are children that are expected to witness its majesty.
It cannot be too scary and have things go horribly wrong for our mama bear and her cubs. But, then again, their success is never a given and the trouble they get into along the way is handled with such grace and compassion by Fothergill and Scholey. That is further proof of their gifts of capturing life itself -- no matter what pitfalls are presented at their subjects -- whether Chimpanzees or Bears.
And the score is composed with great care and love for not only the subjects of the film, but all of its players, including the environmental landscape itself. Prepare to tear up when you hear Phillip Phillips' Home -- you’ve been warned!
Stay through the credits because that is the moment where the camera gets turned on the people making Bears. You would think that they’d be miles away with the most powerful zoom cameras on the planet. They're not!
Overall, our Bears review finds that we cannot think of a better gift for Earth Day than for film audiences to sit and witness the magic and power or these ferocious, yet uniquely gentle giants.
Watch Chimpanzee online for a clue as to the talent of Disneynature and their filmmaking team.