African Cats (Blu-ray)
While I do enjoy nature documentaries, I tend to always have a sense of disappointment when it comes time to review one. Many times they can run on a bit long and don’t always hold my attention. However, Disney goes an unusual route by telling AFRICAN CATS in a somewhat live action version of THE LION KING. Easily one of the better nature documentaries I’ve seen in quite sometime, Disney Nature’s AFRICAN CATS tells an exciting story about survival and family.
The documentary follows two cat families and how they raise their young and survive in the wild of East Africa. On one side of the river lives a pride of lions led by Fang. But within this pride is Layla, an older lioness raising her one cub Mara. Layla is wise, dedicated and the behind the scenes understated leader of the pride. Witnessing her fight back against opposing Lions, Callie and his three grown sons, who are trying to take control of the pride is quite impressive. She knows her place within the group but will sacrifice herself for her cub and the good of the group more so than her leader Fang.
On the other side of the crocodile infested river lives a Cheetah named Seeta raising five cubs of her own. The likelihood of this solitary creature keeping all her young alive before they can fend for themselves is unlikely. They face many dangers such as rainy climates, hyenas and the villainous lion Callie. But the dedication and clever resourcefulness from this incredibly fast creature is a sight to behold.
Many of the scenes are heightened with intensity due to the over exuberant narration by Samuel L. Jackson. As if reading to a group of kindergartners, Jackson captivates the audience with exciting emotional story telling. Much of the explanations in the narration are possibly embellished for a better story but there is no denying the breath taking beauty and exquisite survival of the animals within their natural habitat. My one complaint is the amount of technical info but that is all made up for in the special features and I would gladly sacrifice a little of that for a better story.
Heroes, villains, tragedy, growth, devastating endings and fresh new beginnings, Disney Nature’s AFRICAN CATS has all the makings of a quality feature film and one recommended for all ages. As an extra bonus, during the final moments right before the credits give a “where are they now” recap of the different players in the cat families we followed. Then in a fun tongue in cheek ending, the credits assigned all the array of different animals jobs within the film. It’s very cute and a nice way to end a captivating real life Lion King type story.
Video: (1080p High Definition 1.78:1) Disney always presents high quality stuff and this is no different. The picture is perfect.
Audio: (5.1 DTS –HD MA) The sound is also nice picking up the roars of the lions and Samuel L. Jackson’s voice inflections.
Filmmaker Annotations: A picture in picture video commentary and behind-the-scenes footage presented by the filmmakers and leading experts on the animals and environments that can be watched during the film. Basically it’s a far more high-tech and informative commentary. This is impressively extensive and the saving grace of the Blu-ray (other than the great quality) as it is the only feature worthwhile but it more than succeeds and is highly recommended.
Disney & Nature (3:38): This is Disney bragging about how they are making a difference in conserving nature and how you can help volunteer at Disney.com/environment.
Save The Savanna (4:42): This is about preserving the migratory routes and land for wild animals in the Savanna and how people who saw the film in the theater would be helping donate to this cause.
Jordin Sparks “The World I Knew” (4:24): This is the music video of the song featured in the film and during the credits. I really like this song, very inspirational.