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|Index||32 reviews in total|
I just returned from seeing this movie today. The struggle for survival
of two lion prides a cheetah family are beautifully brought to the big
screen with masterful narration by Samuel L. Jackson. The
cinematography and soundtrack are spectacular.
Mara, a young lioness must struggle to survive after the death of her mother and be accepted into the pride. Sita, a mother cheetah, struggles to raise five cubs in a land populated by deadly hyenas. Kali, a powerful lion, and his three grown sons seek to take over Mara's pride.
The movie is realistic, but not so bloody that anyone but the most sensitive among us should be offended.
I will definitely be adding this one to my DVD collection.
We often think of African wildlife documentaries as being dry,
reiterated, or just clips of either cute baby animals or slow motion
shots of the predator striking at it's prey. All under the dry
narration of Sir David Attenborough or someone trying to sound like
him. This is different.
The theme of "African Cats" is one of a mother's love, the setting is on a stretch of Kenya divided by a great river where on one side we are shown a lioness and her cubs as members of the ruling pride, on the other a mother cheetah and her cubs as she attempts to raise her young as a single mother. Each situation has it's benefits and it's disadvantages.
All of this wonderful story telling occurs amidst the beautiful scenery of Africa and all under the perfect narration of Samuel L. Jackson whose voice matches the inflection and emotion of every scene reminiscent of the work of the late John Facenda of NFL Films.
The movie does not try to out-do its predecessors and be more than it is, it stays to it's story and it's themes and makes for a wonderful film for anyone. From the kid who loves animals, to the casual film goer who enjoys a good story. 6 out of 10, check it out.
Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey bring a charming little documentary set in the Kenyan Savannah. The film has been edited tightly to tell a coherent story and add a more dramatic feel. What sets it apart from watching a documentary on Animal Planet or Discovery Channel is that the viewer does not get the feel that he/she is watching a documentary. It feels like watching a feature film where the lionesses and the cheetahs are the protagonists. It is beautifully shot with stunning cinematography and a brilliant soundtrack with the exception of the Jordinn Sparks track that takes place during the closing credits. But watch the closing credits as it's hilarious seeing how the animals have been credited. Samuel L. Jackson's husky voice excellently narrates the story. It centers around Sita the cheetah and her cubs and Laila the lioness and her daughter Mara. And the presentation of the 'characters' are very well done as the viewer can easily relate to them and root for them. The elements of adventure, suspense and even comedy are brilliantly balanced in this wildlife tale. Given that the title is 'African Cats', I missed seeing the leopard. But anyway, 'African Cats' is overall refreshing, entertaining and heartwarming and a nice reminder of why some of us love animals.
African cats are as dangerous as they are majestic, and one runs the risk of forgetting that when watching this documentary. Cheetahs, lions, and hyenas are lethal killing machines, that is how they live, that is their role in nature. The pictures speak for themselves; narration may not even be necessary. Watching a lion chase down a gazelle or a cheetah face down a lion requires no commentary. This is life or death. Here the narration becomes a distraction. The animals are not acting for the audience's amusement. They are doing what animals do to survive. Do lions have a sense of family? Who knows. But one thing is for certain: this documentary provides a spectacular glimpse of the brute strength and incredible agility of these creatures. Technically, this documentary is superb. But anthropomorphizing these animals for dramatic effect really trivializes what the documentary is showing. These animals are not cuddly playthings; they can and do kill, which is an aspect of their nature that cannot be played down.
This was (in my humble opinion), one of the better "wildlife movies" I
have seen. Sure, there were not too many scenes of carnage but neither
was the footage sanitized to that with what we are traditionally used
to with Disney. A pretty good narration by Jackson and brilliant
cinematography results in a rather good portrayal of life and death in
If there is a little anthropomorphism so what? The overall cinematography was a great compliment to the music and I would think anyone leaving the theatre would admit to almost smelling the Masai Mara in all of its majesty. John P Nightingale
Disney Nature's new documentary could definitely have been more
imaginatively titled, but it's still an impressively mounted experience
for wildlife lovers, and feline fanatics especially. The film-makers
forego an information-filled Attenborough-style narrative, instead
favoring the incongruous delights of Samuel L Jackson regaling us with
a 'true life adventure' like some hoary old story-teller reading from a
children's tome. Some may find this non-scientific approach
condescending, but there's no denying the film offers visual spectacle
on an epic scale and an intimate, involving account of life for these
surprisingly vulnerable killers.
Fang is an aging lion struggling to look after his pride while contending with the usurping efforts of some younger competition. His sheba is trying to do the best for her cub Mara, stuck between her loyalty to Fang and the security that the more virulent lions on the other side of the river might offer. As the two groups come to blows over food, territory and leadership, it becomes clear that Fang's days may be numbered. Meanwhile, Sita is a cheetah with five rambunctious cubs, who are prized as coveted meals for many of the animals sharing their domain. Her efforts to protect, feed and teach them put her in mortal danger not only from enemies from other species but also their own.
As the beautifully captured seasons come and go, drastically affecting the awesome landscape, we witness the cats face many hardships despite being so high up in their food chain. Motion capture and slo-mo are judiciously deployed to generate wonder and tension, with the film's narrowed focus really giving the audience time to appreciate the African countryside, while several sequences of our subjects in peril prove as heart-stopping as a well-orchestrated horror movie. The soundtrack also adds to the atmosphere despite being somewhat predictably crafted and employed. The stories of the lions and the cheetahs are nicely balanced and bring some dynamic variety to the footage; the bigger cats are as impressive and noble as you'd expect, but the cheetahs often steal the show, thanks to the cubs' undeniable cuteness and Sita's mind-boggling multi-tasking prowess and intelligence.
Jackson really does attack his narration with all the relish of a new father indulging his kids at bedtime, making Daniel Craig's po-faced voice-over for the recent One Life film seem joyless and disheartening in comparison. The use of character names does actually help the audience keep track of the cats, even though the attempts to characterize them are sometimes laid on a little too thick. Keith Scholey and John Truby's script invests proceedings with even more humor and pathos than they would already have, and for the most part directors Scholey and Alastair Fothergill know just when to let the action speak for itself. There's also a cringe-worthy but amusing credit roll, where the various animals are assigned appropriate film-making roles; giraffes posing as crane operators are just the tip of the iceberg. It's something of a novelty but also represents icing on the cake for a film that has been more lovingly assembled than you might expect.
Cynics will point to the film's release coinciding with that of The Lion King to accuse Disney of trying to fleece families, while some will find the child-friendly voice-over cloyingly sentimental, but it marks a bit of a change for cinematic nature documentaries and at least they had the good sense to stick to 2D. Cat-lovers young and old will be delighted with this release, and it truly deserves to be experienced on the big screen. By concentrating so steadfastly on such a particular topic, Disney have made a wonderfully immersive and invigorating film, even if it's not particularly enlightening. The film may gloss over its stars' violent nature and assemble footage in a way that manipulates audience sympathy while slightly toning down the harsh reality, but African Cats is an unexpected pleasure to behold, coming as a breath of fresh air in an often stuffily rarefied genre.
¨The hunters became the hunted.¨ It's hard not to like a movie with
lion and cheetah cubs running around in their natural habitat, and
learning alongside their loving mothers how to survive in the dangerous
environment of the Kenyan savanna. Disney Nature brings us a new
wildlife documentary after the successful Earth which debuted in 2007.
Alastair Fothergill is the director once again although this time he
has a collaborator: Keith Scholey and the focus is primarily set on the
wild cats. The film is beautifully shot and each scene is breathtaking.
For those of us who can't afford a safari to Africa, this is as close
as we will get to these wild animals running around freely without bars
to hold them back. It was fascinating and animal lovers will especially
enjoy this, but it wasn't anything I couldn't watch on the National
Geographic channel. Experiencing these majestic kings on the big screen
is a plus however and I enjoyed my 80 minute safari across the African
savanna. It would be too harsh and mean spirited to give this film a
negative review because the cubs are just really cute.
Samuel L. Jackson is on board as the narrator of the film as he tells us the story of two separate families of cats and their struggle for survival. These animals are even given names and the shots are edited in order to create a story. On one hand we have a mother lioness that is protecting her cub, Mara, from a pride of lions from the North. Fang is the pride leader in the South, but he is being threatened by the leader on the other side who wants to expand his kingdom along with his now adult sons. A river infested with crocodiles divides the savanna so crossing from one side to the other is no easy task, however the risk is eminent. At the same time we have an interchanging parallel story as we follow Sita, a single mother of five cheetah cubs. She also is teaching her cubs how to survive in the wild, while at the same time protecting them from hyenas and other wild animals.
The story does feel forced at some points, but at least it adds a little dramatic effect to the picture. We get to experience a lot of hunts and chases, but the death scenes are cut off right away. The film is worth a watch due to the incredible footage as we get to experience the adventures of wildlife. I wouldn't sit through this film a second time and I probably would have found something similar on the National Geographic, Animal Planet or Discovery channels, but I just can't give this documentary a negative review.
This is the type of documentary that one can expect coming for Disney. There were some elements of drama, but was mainly one to try to make you say 'aww.' I personally felt like Sam Jackson overacted the narration. The animals, however, were extremely cute. Everyone in the audience seemed to have a wonderful time and enjoyed themselves. Overall, I feel that this documentary does not even compare to 'The Last Lions' that was released in February. The Last Lions did everything right. They used Jeremy Irons (the voice of Uncle Scar) to narrate and actually brought light to the fact that African cats, lions in particular, are headed toward extinction. Also, The Last Lions was much more dramatic and engaging.
Disney is going the docudrama route. Layla is the oldest lioness
raising her cub Mara with Fang the leader of the River Pride. They are
protected by the crocodile infested river from the pride to the north
ruled by Kali and his four sons. Also Sita the cheetah is raising her
five small cubs.
Samuel L. Jackson is narrating the American version. Quite frankly, he's trying too hard to dramatize what is already very dramatic. The footage and the writing is plenty good enough. I miss the British voice narration which usually gives these nature documentaries the needed gravitas. The score is another problem. It's again overly dramatic. It keeps overshadowing what are very compelling animal stories.
I'm not a Disneyphobe (nor am I a Disneyphile) but this needed its very fine cinematography to lift its rating and keep me watching. Undoubtedly, the script and narration will go down well with followers of the genre, as will the genteel treatment of the cruel realities of life and death in the wild, such as an absence of gore. This is not a criticism, just an observation. It is Disney, after all, and that's all. As a many-times observer in the flesh of real-life African wildlife action, I was glued to this only by its visuals. Apart from the unreal lack of blood, they were among the best I've seen in documentaries depicting the lives of big cats, and it was a relief not to have a narrator putting his face in front of the camera at every opportunity. Oh, and I have no problem with anthropomorphic descriptions of wild animals. I've seen big cats in the wild showing the same basic emotions as humans...affection between relatives and allies, anger and fear towards enemies, and so on: a lioness staring with what can only be described as great anger; fear in a lion's face before it turned and fled from humans on foot it had detected in the distance; pain in the eyes of an injured lion, beaten in a fight.
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