Movie Review: Bears

In most nature films, bears are often portrayed as ferocious animals; eager to tear apart campsites and let out startling roars. The animals in Disneynature’s new film Bears depicts a new perspective, one of a mother’s care for her vulnerable cubs in a dangerous environment. The film, directed by Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey, follows the life of an Alaskan grizzly bear and her two cubs on an adventure to find safety and food. The breathtaking cinematography places viewers in the wild terrains of falling avalanches and changing tides. Lush greenery and vibrant flowers emerge with the coming of spring. Clear water exposes aquatic life as the mother bear dives in to catch salmon while they leap and splash around her.

The two young cubs, Amber and Scout, show off their playful and curious nature as they trail their mother, Sky, and learn how to behave in the “real” world.

The film opens with a close-up shot of the two furry cubs nestled with their mother.  They slowly and awkwardly take their first steps on the thick snow after a long hibernation. The camera zooms out to reveal the snow-covered mountains, slowly panning over the vast landscape to give viewers a better grasp of the monumental excursion ahead.

Despite the adorable affection from mother bear to cubs, the film doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of life in a survival-of-the-fittest environment. Sky, a first-time mother, struggles to keep a watchful eye on her cubs at all times. At one point, Scout grows so tired that he falls asleep while the tides rise and frigid water begins to wash over him. Sky fails to notice, and Scout must swim to shore to avoid drowning. At other times, predators follow close behind and Sky must either stand her ground or find another place to reside.

John C. Reilly, who starred in Step Brothers and Boogie Nights, narrates the movie. He effectively adds humor to avoid dullness that can sometimes accompany nature films. He inserts personality to a voiceless film by assigning anthropomorphic characteristics to each bear.  His lines offer light-heartedness against the more suspenseful moments.

The film lets the scenery speak for itself without scientific facts overshadowing the voyage. Since it’s a Disney movie, it makes sense that the filmmakers chose not to explain everything. The film focuses on providing more minimal background details; the film is aimed toward younger kids who are usually accustomed to simplicity.

The film follows a cohesive plot structure, an important element that provides viewers with more accessibility to retain attention. The family of bears travels from their hibernation spot to various locations, encountering other animals along the way in hopes of finding much-needed salmon to sustain their lives.

The journey becomes more miraculous when the film explains that only half of bear cubs survive their first year. Hazards like predators, rising tides and starvation all appear in the movie, but the bears overcome all these obstacles.

If you’re in the mood for a film with stunning scenery that realistically depicts wildlife, you’ll really enjoy watching Bears. Although the film leaves out a decent amount of scientific information, the colorful images are sufficient to satiate viewer’s curiosity of a world widely unfamiliar. Bears truly captures the beauty and determination of these fascinating animals that most people don’t have the opportunity to experience in such an intimate way.