Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Bears
Bears is the latest nature documentary from DisneyNature. Nearly every year, Disney releases one of these films on Earth Day and they are usually the biggest documentary of the year. They are likely also one of the most expensive documentaries of the year. How does this one live up to its predecessors? Does it leave me excited for Monkey Kingdom?
John C. Reilly is the narrator / storyteller. We are first introduced to a mother bear, Sky, and her two kids, Amber and Scout. Sky had just given birth and needs a lot of food in order to nurse her kids. The film follows Sky, Amber, and Scout as they travel down from their den dug in the snow on a high mountain top to the rivers below where they will fish for salmon. There are many dangers ahead, including natural disasters like avalanches. There are also dangers in the form of other animals, like the two male bears that are battling for supremacy, Magnus and Chinook, or a wolf named Tikaani, who threatens the cubs from time to time. And, of course, the main danger is hunger, because without enough food, the cubs will starve to death during the winter hibernation.
This movie is very much like Chimpanzee was. It anthropomorphises the characters too much for my taste and makes the film seem more like a kids movie than one aimed at adults. In other words, it leans towards the entertainment portion of Edutainment, while I would prefer more educational content. That said, it is still engaging. There are a number of tense moments and some humor in the movie. The film looks fantastic, which is not surprising when you look at the previous films released by DisneyNature.
Extras begin with four featurettes. There's a six-minute overview making of featurette, while there is also a seven-minute making of featurette that focuses on some of the more difficult to get shots. The other two featurettes talk about how to preserve the bear populations and what the bears' personalities are like. Finally, there is a music video by Olivia Holt. Of this, only the music video is on the DVD.
As expected, the technical presentation is fantastic with sharp details and truly lifelike colors. Some of the scenes are a little soft focus, but it is a nature documentary and depending on the shot, different cameras or techniques are needed. (Also, it's not like they can get a second take if the shot is a little out of focus, because the bears missed their mark.) The audio is immersive, especially the scenes with the avalanche of the waterfalls.
You can only purchase the movie as the Blu-ray combo pack, which costs $23. That's a fair price.
Bears is inline with the other DisneyNature films where they have a kid-friendly script. I preferred Oceans or Earth to the latter DisneyNature films. That said, if you do like this style, then the Blu-ray Combo Pack is worth picking up. Even if you are on the fence, like I am, but like nature documentaries in general, it is worth picking up.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2014-08-22