Kyle J. Steenblik

Disney’s Bears is a beautiful entry-level nature documentary

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bears-poster-600-lgGiven the intended young demographic for this nature documentary, a few things must be forgiven right out of the den.  Chief among those is the anthropomorphism of the bears, followed closely by the limited zoological detail presented, and finally the narration.  Given that, the film itself is incredibly enjoyable, and offers an insightful look into a year in the life of a mother bear and her two new cubs.  Bears was superbly filmed at Katmai National Park in Alaska with by a team of very brave cinematographers and videographers, who were in close proximity to some ill-tempered and hungry bears.

In an epic story of breathtaking scale, Disneynature’s new True Life Adventure “Bears” showcases a year in the life of a bear family as two impressionable young cubs are taught life’s most important lessons. Set against a majestic Alaskan backdrop teeming with life, their journey begins as winter comes to an end and the bears emerge from hibernation to face the bitter cold.  The world outside is exciting—but risky—as the cubs’ playful descent down the mountain carries with it a looming threat of avalanches. As the season changes from spring to summer, the brown bears must work hard to find food—ultimately feasting at a plentiful salmon run—while staying safe from rival male bears and predators, including an ever-present wolf pack. “Bears” captures the fast-moving action and suspense of life in one of the planet’s last great wildernesses—Alaska! Directed by Alastair Fothergill (“Earth,” “African Cats” and “Chimpanzee”) and Keith Scholey (“African Cats”), “Bears” arrives in theaters April 18, 2014, to celebrate Earth Day.

The cinematography is absolutely beautiful, and exhibits a dedication to the craft only found in those that pick up a camera young and only put it down when they can no longer hold it.  This is, sometimes eclipsed by the narration, unfortunately.  In an attempt to anthropomorphize the bears, they are assigned personalities, and even share thoughts on their circumstances.  It is ridiculous at times, but then I did say that this had to be forgiven if we take into account this film was made for children.

Bears: 8 out of 10 Narrated by John C. Riley the film moves at a brisk pace through some fairly tense moments, and is ultimately a very pleasing film to watch with your family, offering a fascinating look at the sometimes-perilous life of young bears.


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