At this time of year for the last 4 years, Disneynature has released a documentary and this year is no different. Bears is the first film to stay focused on a North American species for the entirety of its 77 minute running time.
I have always been a big fan of nature documentaries and was looking forward to this even though I do understand that many of these films are staged to get the desired shots the directors want. I normally have not had too much of a problem except when I learned that films of this nature were even worse for the attempt to manipulate the animals into scenarios that would be dramatic. Some even left many of the animals dead as a result.
This to the best of my knowledge has been all but eradicated from modern animal documentaries but we the audience are still manipulated into feeling a certain way when we watch these movies. I’m cool with that since all film is used to evoke emotions from the audience to see storyteller’s vision.
I didn’t feel that way here. I found myself bored for the most part watching this story unfold. In this style of documentary, we are supposed to get two things: First a story of some kind, usually trying to make us connect to animals via personalization. The second (which should be most important) is some education underlying the story element. It’s really that simple. Or is it?
Here we are given a story of a mother bear (an Alaskan Brown Bear) who is just coming out of hibernation with her two young cubs. They fight to survive on the long trek down the mountains from the shelter they used all winter. We are supposed to empathize with the new family via narration provided by John C. Reilly. WHAT? Yep Reilly’s stupid, child-like voice which is great for comedy is telling me all about these bears. Nope, I’m out. I couldn’t take anything he said seriously. He tries to convey the education portion as intelligently as possible but it only sounds hollow coming from him.
As for the education portion, there is nothing really new and interesting about what they revealed here. Bears hibernate, they hunt for food, they fight for territory, they eat salmon and then they go back to hibernating come winter. That’s it. It is basic info that is taught in schools and shown on PBS every week. Perhaps if you haven’t learned any of this during school, then maybe, just maybe this would be interesting to you.
Bears are not even an animal that I find interesting but even I already know these things. Really, you couldn’t find any better educational info? The whole film left me hollow from the lack of any substance put to celluloid here. It is a damn shame because I really wanted to like this film but I just can’t. The only nice thing I can say is that it is beautifully shot and much of the camera work was very well done. But a movie that does not make.
If you are looking for something to watch this weekend, Bears is not the best choice available. Pretty much anything would be better than this movie.
VERDICT: SKIP IT!
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!