Disneynature’s new true life adventure, “Bears,” tells how mama bear, Sky, teaches cubs, Amber and Scout, important lessons during the cubs’ first year of life. Waking from six months of hibernation in the Alaskan mountains, Sky’s family descends to coastal meadows and beaches where they search for food. There, they must bulk up for next winter’s hibernation.
Will the family find enough sustenance – clams, mussels, rock eel, grass, salmon – to survive the long, cold Alaskan winter? See “Bears” to find out.
Actor John C. Reilly does his best with (sometimes corny) narration. Who wrote the script? No one confessed. (I wouldn’t claim it either.) Filled with anthropomorphisms attributing human emotions to animals – especially the bears – the narration is often cringe-worthy, at least for adults. “Scout,” says Reilly of the male cub, “the more adventurous one, can’t believe what he is seeing.” When mama Sky runs from Magnus, the alpha-male, it’s “a choice she will soon regret” and, later, leading her cubs to the “Golden Pond” for salmon, “Sky can almost taste them,” Reilly assures us. Doubtless, these attributions help children identify with the bears, but the language is still corny.
There are plenty of visual pleasures, however, for adults and children. Long shots of splendid Alaskan landscapes, atmospheric photos of ocean shoreline, heavy rain in late summer deep woods, and high snowy mountains are worth the price of admission. They are beautiful.
“Bears” is this year’s Disney Earth-Day nature movie, a family-friendly, G-rated, 78-minutes long documentary. Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey directed an expert camera crew, some of whom we see in after-film credits. Their close-up shots of principal animal characters – Sky, her cubs, fearsome male bears Magnus and Chinook, stalking (and snoozing) white wolf Takani (who has pale scary eyes), and a helpful raven who has no name – are amazing. While search for food is the plot line (although “Bears” can hardly be said to have a plot), it’s interrupted from time to time by animal and environmental threats for a bit of suspense. There are alpha bears, the wolf, and avalanches, incoming tides and, of course, the long, bitterly cold winter.
Rated G and just over an hour, “Bears” will entertain a family. Stay through the credits to watch camera crew members as they photograph animal characters. I could wish we saw more of their cinemagraphic work.
True life adventure, “Bears,”
Two cubs, mama cares,
But mama, cubs – Beware!
First-year life’s a bear!