Review by-Jarrett Leahy
Disneynature, the studio that created documentaries about African cats and chimpanzees, is back with an entertaining glimpse at the harrowing first year of two newborn bear cubs. Set in the magnificently remote wilderness of the Alaskan peninsula, Bears is a touching and exhilarating look at the hazardous journey a mother brown bear and her two new cubs must set out on in order to survive.
As the film opens up, we surprisingly find ourselves inside the den created by mother bear Sky, allowing us to catch a rare peek as she nurses her two new little bundles, Scout and Amber. Through adept editing techniques, we quickly see these two tiny cubs grow right before our eyes, until it is finally time to break out of hibernation and set out on their long journey for food and survival. Throughout the film, the affectionate interactions shared between Sky and her babies leaves you with that proverbial warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Adding even more enjoyment is each cub’s uniquely observable personality, with Scout being the pokey adventure type while Amber is much more cautious, staying close to mom and even catching the occasional ride on Sky’s strong back whenever permitted.
Nature documentaries have an unfortunate reputation of being a bit dull or stodgy. Disneynature quickly puts those concerns to rest with their selection of actor/comedian extraordinaire John C. Reilly as the film’s narrator. Reilly’s comedic delivery is simply perfect for this film, adding adorable observational conversations for the interactions between these two energetic young bundles and their loving mother. His side-splitting narration during a particular scene involving Scout and a clam will leave you tears.
Another of the film’s true joys is simply the breathtaking Alaskan wilderness these gifted filmmakers were so skillfully able to capture on film. During scenes when the bears are fishing for salmon, the camera puts you right in the action, even giving you the occasional fish-eye view of this aquatic game of cat and mouse. From majestic snow-capped mountains, to expansive coastlines and flowering meadows, the wonderfully voluminous and diverse nature settings offered by our nation’s largest state will leave you in awe.
With hundreds of hours of footage shot, it’s incredible that directors Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey were able so efficiently to whittle it all down to a taut and lively 75 minute production. Thanks in large part to John C. Reilly’s priceless narration, Bears is a charming and delightful adventure for both children and adults that will have you leaving the theater beaming.-JL