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He Said, She Said Review Site

Bears

What She said:

She

So apparently Disney has delegated a separate division (Disneynature) to the creation of environmental documentary movies that appeal to the entire family.  I recall hearing about Earth, the movie that supposedly started it all, but never really saw it.  Actually, scratch that, I’ve seen portions of it airing in Best Buy while perusing HDTV systems.  Apparently the visuals are just that good that the movie has been singled out to showcase the top notch features of high definition television graphics and Bose sound.  I vaguely remember Chimpanzee, but there’s little chance I’ll ever see that movie.  I’m not a huge fan of the species.  But Bears just looked adorable—those cute, fuzzy, moody little killers.  And, the film is narrated by John C. Reilly, an odd but entertaining choice.  While I questioned some of the authenticity of the plot, I very much enjoyed Bears, as it hit the spot with its adorableness and happy ending.

Bears

This film is a pseudo-documentary.  I say that because, while presented as a documentary, it also offers a narrative storyline that focuses on a mama bear, Sky, and her two cubs, Amber and Scout.  We follow Sky and fam for the first year of the cubs’ lives, and we get to see the trials and tribulations they must endure in order to survive.  My issue here is whether or not all of the happenings in these bears’ lives were authentic.  I believe that they struggled for food, but some of the interactions may have been slightly dramatized.  Who knows?  I just often question these things in this day -and-age of reality TV that turns out to be not so realistic.

But, if I were to take the movie at face value, and believe all that I’m seeing, then I’d say that this is an effective and powerful film.  It tugs at your heart strings just enough without causing too much trauma.  Children will like the cute and fuzzies, but may be scared by some of the fight scenes between the adult bears.  I still think it’s doable for children ages 6+, because parents can explain away the behavior.  It’s really nothing that a child wouldn’t see on an animal documentary.  We see Sky and her kids get chased around by other predators several times, including an adorable, but also menacing gray wolf named Tikaani, as well as dominant male bears Magnus and Chinook.  The male bears are actually interested in eating little Amber and Scout, which is pretty troubling—cannibalism in the animal kingdom. 

Bears

The film is visually quite appealing, with plenty of landscapes of the breathtaking Alaska wilderness.  The colors are rich, and it will make one want to visit that part of the country.  Just make sure you go during the summer and mind those hungry bears.  For more on what happens when you stupidly get too close with bears, watch Grizzly Man.  But please don’t watch THAT with your kids.  It’s eerie and alarming in every sense. 

While I know that others have complained about Reilly as narrator, I thought he was good.  He used his voice to add levity to the film at the appropriate moments, and I found him professional enough to carry the narrative well.  Also of note was the musical score.  I thought it brought life to the film and was often serene.  Very nice.

Overall, I really liked Bears.  It’s simple, but also beautiful and effective.  Good entertainment for the family, and brings some awareness to environmental causes.

Thumbs up.

 

 

What He said:

He
Bears

A grizzly bear named Sky has recently given birth to two cubs while hibernating for the winter in her den on a mountain slope. She has one boy (Scout) and one girl (Amber). When the calendar turns to April, Sky and her cubs begin their journey.

Being a mother bear is not an easy job. Not only do they do it alone – as with many animals the males are nowhere to be found – they are forced to cope with many dangers along the way.

Almost immediately after beginning their journey, Sky is forced to deal with avalanches. Remember, their den was on a mountain, and they are emerging in the spring, so as the snow melts, avalanches become a major obstacle. Dealing with them is tough enough as is, but when forced to care for not one, but two cubs that are only a few months old, that takes the challenge to a whole new level.

Bears

Once they get to the bottom of the mountain, their journey to find food, which is both long and dangerous.
They aren’t the only bears looking for food, so that makes the pickens slim. Bears do not share food and are very territorial. The biggest and baddest bear in this part of Alaska is Magnus. Magnus is your stereotypical alpha male. He does what he wants when he wants and nobody can stop him. At one point in the movie, instead of catching his own fish, Magnus waits for a rival male to catch a salmon and then simply proceeds to steal it from him.

That other male is an older, starving, and more desperate bear named Chinook. In many ways Chinook is actually a greater threat to Sky, Scout, and Amber than Magnus. Magnus generally avoids them and tends to clash with other males. Chinook often challenges, and always loses, Magnus for dominance; meaning he loses out on food. When this happens, he becomes desperate and does things like pursues females with cubs. Males will resort to cannibalism if they are hungry enough. Sky and the cubs run into Chinook several times throughout the movie – more than Magnus actually.

Other bears aren’t the only animals Sky and the cubs are forced to confront. There’s also a pesky male wolf named Tikaani. I know wolves tend to travel in packs, but Tikaani is never seen with a pack, so I assumed he was a lone wolf. While not having the luxury of a pack to support him in a hunt, like Chinook, he’s also desperate. Sky is forced to look over her shoulder at every turn, because wolves like Chinook will often attempt to snatch one of the cubs.

Other animals aren’t the only dangers they face either. You see, they travel across many miles and come across many obstacles. Rising tides are a problem for the cubs, since they don’t know how to swim yet. The potential for drowning is a real danger for the cubs if they aren’t paying attention. And speaking of which, there’s Scout himself. He’s a lot more adventurous than his sister Amber. She sticks to her mom’s side, but Scout is often getting into trouble. It is not uncommon for him to fall behind or simply get lost because he’s exploring. So, it is safe to say that the average mother bear has a lot to deal with.

Bears

This is a really nice little movie that is suitable for the whole family. It’s funny, education, and has some breath-taking scenery; all of which you will appreciate even more if you watch the credits. The filmmakers went to great lengths to follow this bear family and get the shots they did. The director, camera men, and cinematographer all did a nice job.

The movie is narrated by John C. Reilly. Some critics were not too keen on this choice. Well, I say to hell with them, because his comedic skills are great for telling this type of story (the movie is narrated in a way that almost unfolds like a storybook). He was funny when he was supposed to be, portrayed danger when appropriate, and did so with a real sense of innocence. His voice and demanenor were the perfect choice for this kind of story. I’m not sure why someone would have a problem with this choice.

Prognosis: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on August 29, 2014.

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