April 17, 2014

Movie review: Disneynature’s ‘Bears’

Parents can relate to the heroine of this Disneynature documentary, a struggling single ‘mom’ with two young cubs, even if she does wear a fur coat every day.

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It’s tough being a single, first-time mom with two children, especially if you’re an Alaskan brown bear.

Disneynature’s new documentary Bears — the latest in the long line of nature documentary the studio releases for Earth Day — showcases the trials and tribulations of the first year of motherhood for Sky and shows her attempts to teach her cubs, Amber and Scout, how to survive in the Alaskan wilderness.

The breathtaking cinematography explores the vastness of Sky’s world as well as captures the intimate moments of the tight-knit family. The film takes the audience from the moment Sky gives birth to the cubs to the trek from the mountaintops to the river basin, where the mother bear is desperately trying to find food to feed her hungry babies. Her task is daunting as “only half of the cubs born each winter make it through their first year alive.”

With witty narration from actor John C. Reilly, the audience becomes immersed in the daily dangers the three bears face, including a sly wolf Tikanni, always lurking in the bears’ shadows. Sky must also be leery of the alpha-male bears, Magnus and Chinook. With a limited supply of fish around, the male bears eye the cubs for a protein snack.

The fighting scenes between the bears may be intense for younger kids but this is nature, after all. There are also plenty of humorous moments to keep the audience engaged. While Amber stays close to mama, curious Scout likes to venture away for chance encounters with clams. When his claw gets stuck trying to open a clam shell, Reilly channels Scout’s distress: “Let go of my claw, clam.”

Don’t miss the end credits where you’ll see how close the filmmakers got to their subjects so you can truly appreciate the work that was involved to bring the story to life.

The film gives the audience a glimpse into a world that most would not be able to experience, and it simultaneously tugs at our heart strings with a universal message of family.

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