Reviewed by: Andrea McAteer
|Featuring:||John C. Reilly … Narrator|
|Director:||Alastair Fothergill, Keith Scholey|
|Distributor:||Walt Disney Pictures, DisneyNature|
DisneyNature’s “Bears” follows Sky, a mother bear, and her cubs Scout and Amber. We meet the cubs in their den, high upon a mountain top covered in snow. The bears leave their den in search of food, mom leading the way as winter melts and spring emerges. The film chronicles their hardships as well as silly moments. John C. Reilly narrates the film.
As with other DisneyNature films, the bears are personified and their journey ends up a scripted play. It takes the format of a documentary, but provides its own storyline that raises some doubts that even children can spot. Sky apparently cannot hunt in various locations because of the presence of other bears, but when she finally finds salmon in a safe place, this location also has many bears. We are made to believe all the other locations with fish that she and her cubs have come across are dangerous and this one final stream is the key to finding plentiful fish and harmony with other bears. Much of the drama is fabricated.
As with other movies that are pseudo-documentaries, a story and characters are created to weave interest. Much of the peril seems exaggerated and when Scout is said to be missing, mom walks on, content to leave without him. Yet, it is scenes like this that to me, appear to be edited and narrated to tell a story, whereas I do wonder if he simply lagged behind when mom walked away and was not in the camera shot. Films are not shot chronologically and even this documentary-style film felt as if some of the shots were not in order—the cubs appeared smaller in some spots where they were to be older and had just looked larger in previous shots. Elements that bring doubt to the story are what bother me about these movies. I’d rather have a straight narration of the happenings and interesting facts about bears, instead of a contrived story.
In spite of my critique, this is a nice family film with beautiful cinematography. I marvel at how the location of the den was even known to the crew, as well as how they managed to get their cameras right into the den in such a remote location. I enjoyed the behind the scenes footage that is shown during the credits. It is interesting to see the film crew working as the bears go about their lives.
There is nothing inappropriate in this film, but younger children under age 6 might become restless. There are some bear fights, but they are not frightening. There is blood when the bears catch and eat salmon. Not each feeding scene has blood, and it is minimal and will most likely just illicit an “ewww” by young children.
I was reminded of a passage in Matthew. We see these bears looking for food, going back to areas they know instinctually to go to. God cares for all His creation and so much more so for us. Matthew 6:25-34 says…
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
“Bears” is a beautifully filmed movie and nice for the whole family. If you enjoy nature programs, you will certainly enjoy this one.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
…Stunning! …a most satisfying movie-going experience. …
—Phil Boatwright, Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…the most kid-friendly journey of all the Disneynature flicks… an enjoyable, anthropomorphized journey dosed with challenge, villains, love and joyous victory…
—Bob Hoose, Plugged In
…unbearably adorable… beautiful, funny, entertaining…
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide
…a thrilling journey into nature… breathtaking…
—Susan Ellingburg, Crosswalk
…A Disneyfied version of nature… While most of the narrative events arise plausibly from the young bears learning to survive, it’s framed in a hokey quest story about Sky’s search for the magical “golden pond,” a paradisl pool, where the salmon are so numerous many bears can gorge and live in harmony. … [2½/4]
—Liam Lacey, The Globe and Mail
…a stunning, funny documentary about a mama bear and her cubs' survival in nature. … [3/4]
—Claudia Puig, USA Today
…upbeat …DisneyNature’s latest Earth Day offering is sweet as honey—and pretty, to boot…
—Chris Knight, National Post
…Glorious wildlife footage compensates for the cheesy narration and contrived storyline in this latest Disneynature doc. …
—Andrew Barker, Variety