The real shame with Disney's nature documentary "Born in China" is that
the potential was there for a remarkable film. The imagery captured of
both the landscapes and of the beautiful and elusive animals on which
it is centered is completely awe-inspiring and never less than
completely engrossing and compelling. And it tells the oft-poignant
story of what it is like for families and packs of animals in the vast
reaches of China, including adorable pandas and stunning snow leopards.
Unfortunately, the film's failing is a complete and utter lack of any
real substance or information regarding these subjects, which is
instead traded for often contrived schmaltz and "jokey" narration. For
all it does right with the stunning visuals... all else seems forced
and a tad bit trite.
The footage itself is incredible. Especially when viewed on the big screen. Director Lu Chuan and his team of cinematographers and cameramen truly do capture some compelling and beautiful looks into the lives of these animals, and it's a pleasure seeing what it's like for them as they struggle to thrive and survive over the course of just over a year. The most outstanding of course being the snow leopard referred to as "Dawa" and her cups, simply because they are such stunning creatures and they face the most adversity and tragedy throughout the film. Chuan and the rest of the crew feverishly document these wonderful creatures to the greatest of extents.
The problem is that through editing and over-written narration delivered by comedic actor John Krasinski, the entire message seems a bit undermined. I know that it wouldn't work for some, but in my mind, simply showing the footage over music or with only minimal information carefully doled out through brief bits of narration would have worked best. But you get the feeling that Disney's nature department felt they needed to add more of a "message" to the film, and it feels tacky and silly. The film starts out promising with some actual key information about China and a pleasant explanation of the symbology involving cranes taking flight... but it quickly becomes an "Ohh, so cutesy!" affair with Krasinski "speaking" for the animals and inserting odd random jokes while never doling out more than the most basic and bland of facts. This was an opportunity for education, but instead it places too much focus on talking about how much animal-mommies love their animal-babies, and throwing in some really odd references to appease the young children in the audience. (The film likes to constantly remind us that it refers to a clan of Snub-Nose monkeys as the "Lost Boys" about once every 30 seconds in certain scenes.) It's borderline condescending. I remember when I was a child watching nature documentaries in school or on television... I wanted to learn. This film instead feels the need to talk down.
Still, I can't say that this fact ruined the film as a whole. Because it didn't. There's still so much to take in through the 76- minute run-time that I'd definitely give it a mild recommendation, especially to families with young children or general nature enthusiasts. While critical facts are few and far in-between and the over-done narration does drag it down a bit, the footage enclosed is constantly and consistently enthralling and exquisitely captured. And it did save the film for me, and make it an enjoyable watch as an entire cumulative experience. Seeing pandas, snub-nosed monkeys and of course the snow leopards in their natural habitats, living and breathing is just too magical to dismiss over my squabbles with the production.
I give it a slightly above average 6 out of 10. It could have been better, but there's still just enough to make it worth a watch at least once.
Born in China
Born in China
Narrated by John Krasinski ("13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi," NBC's "The Office," "Amazon's "Jack Ryan"), Disneynature's new True Life Adventure film "Born In China" takes an epic journey into the wilds of China where few people have ever ventured. Following the stories of three animal families, the film transports audiences to some of the most extreme environments on Earth to witness some of the most intimate moments ever captured in a nature film. A doting panda mother guides her growing baby as she begins to explore and seek independence. A two-year-old golden snub-nosed monkey who feels displaced by his new baby sister joins up with a group of free-spirited outcasts. And a mother snow leopard-an elusive animal rarely caught on camera-faces the very real drama of raising her two cubs in one of the harshest and most unforgiving environments on the planet. Featuring stunning, never-before-seen imagery, the film navigates China's vast terrain-from the frigid mountains to ...
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August 21, 2017 at 03:29 AM