Oct 09, 2011 10:20 AM EST
Disney's African Cats Roars on Disney Blu-ray
Back in April Disney released the latest in its nature series; this film focused on African cats and was titled similarly. As always the objective with these films is not to earn large amounts of money but to promote awareness of nature and the plight of its wildlife.
African Cats focuses on a select stretch of land located in the Mara Preserve in Kenya. This large piece of land is separated by a winding river and keeps most of the large predators from one another. One group of cats is the Southern River Pride, which is led by a male lion known as Fang. He watches over a pride of five lionesses and their cubs, all of which are his. Given the overabundance of wildebeests in the area food for the pride is plentiful to say the least.
On the opposite side of the river we meet Seta, a cheetah who has just given birth to a litter of five cubs. Unlike lions, male cheetahs do not stay to help raise their cubs so she is raising these babies on her own. Being a "single parent" she has to provide for her cub and with the large amount of gazelle that graze in the area finding food isn't too difficult. The film moves back and forth between each set of animals, slowly developing the story that is playing out before us. Like any film with a well=developed plot, we find all the classic elements of drama, love and comedy. The drama for these animals is the day to day hardships they deal with. For Fang and his pride it is the threat from other males looking to take over his small "kingdom". This comes in the form of Kali and his four young sons, who continually make attempts to conquer Fang's territory.
Seta's hardships appear in the form of threats from other predators, finding food and teaching her children how to fend for themselves when they reach maturity. As time moves along, the herd of wildebeests migrates away from their area searching for more fertile pastures. So now Fang and his pride, without a plentiful food source, must look where ever they can to find food for their cubs. Sometimes they are lucky and sometimes not, a stray carcass along the river bank brings danger because of the crocodiles, and while they may not be much of a threat on land, they are unchallenged in the river.
When Seta and her teenage cubs decide to cross the river they do so at great risk because at any moment a crocodile could strike and that would be the end of any one of them. The documentary is no fairy tale, so any parents watching with their kids they should be aware that this film deals with the realities of nature, the good and the bad. While there are plenty of scenes which will cause a lot of "ooo's" and "aww's", there are also many other scenes which may frighten young children or possibly bring tears to your and their eyes. Anyone who understands nature though will be aware this is the way of life and to assume it is any other way is simply a naïve notion left for animated features filled with talking cows.
The movie is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and while his voice does have a unique tone to it, it rarely hits the mark during most of the film. What does work is the way in which the film is shot; it is obvious that Disney, once again, used the latest in film technology to capture the stunning beauty of the African plains. The picture is breathtakingly clear, so much so that quite often you forget you're watching a film. The same goes for the audio quality and if you are able you should see this film in a theater that has a good sound system, it will be more than worth it. You will want to get the full effect, like when the male lions are facing off against one another; you can almost feel the vibration from their roars.
Now it arrives on Blu-ray on two separate discs, the first disc features the film in high definition picture and sound. Along with the film come a few bonus features such as an interactive feature which takes you behind the scenes as the film plays and is narrated by the filmmaker and conservationists. There is also a music video sung by Jordan Sparks titled "The World I Knew", a look at Disney and their love of nature and finally a featurette which discusses the plight of the African savannah. On disc two is the standard version of the film along with two of the same bonus features as on disc 1.
African Cats is an outstanding documentary which showcases the often difficult lives of two of the most well-known African animals by giving them a voice. It's always enjoyable to take look at nature and remind ourselves that once we lived in the wild like these animals still do and sometimes it pays to be reminded of where we came from.
Purchase Disney's African Cats on Blu-ray at Amazon.com