Bears Review
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Each Earth Day, Disneynature releases another eye-popping nature documentary to theaters, sharing the wonder and awe of the natural world with viewers of all ages. The latest Disneynature film, Bears journeys to Alaska to experience a year with a pair of bear cubs.

Bears shows a year in the life of a brown bear family. The film begins as mama bear Sky comes out of hibernation ready to lead her two young cubs, Amber and Scout, across the snowy mountain peaks to the coast, where she hopes they’ll find plenty of fish to strengthen all of them for the coming year.

Unfortunately for Sky and her cubs, though, the statistics are not in their favor. Only around half of all bear cubs survive their first year. And they face life-threatening challenges in the form of everything from avalanches and rising tides to wolves and other bears.

Disneynature’s documentaries are known for their stunning cinematography—and Bears is no different. This isn’t like the stuffy, grainy nature specials that used to air on Saturday afternoons. It’s crisp and vibrant, with breathtaking views of snow-covered mountains and flower-covered meadows and intimate, detailed close-ups of the mother and her cubs.

The detailed footage (along with the accompanying sound) also helps to build the drama of the bears’ story. You’ll feel the bitter cold of the snow—and you’ll feel the amazing power of the avalanche in your chest. You’ll sense the danger of the situation as possible predators stare directly into the camera. And that makes the film all the more tense and suspenseful.

At the same time, though, thanks to clever editing and a sometimes laugh-out-loud funny script, Bears can also be lighthearted and fun. These bears seem to have every bit as much personality as any human family. Sky is tough but loving, ready to do whatever it takes to protect her little ones—and while she may be four-legged and furry, moms will relate to her strength and determination (and sometimes her flat-out exhaustion, too).

Sky’s cubs, meanwhile, are as different as siblings can be. Cautious Amber generally sticks by her mom’s side—often climbing on Sky’s back for a ride—while playful, adventurous Scout chases after birds, rolls in the mud, and gets himself into all kinds of predicaments. And it’s in these moments when narrator John C. Reilly truly shines.

In the playful moments—when Scout is off on another adventure or when adult bears are lounging in the sun—Reilly manages to capture the humor and even the humanity of the story. For the most part, though, his narration doesn’t have the kind of refinement that you might expect from such a gorgeous documentary. His voice simply feels out of place in this majestic natural setting.

With its lovable furry stars and its stunning cinematography, Disneynature’s Bears is another eye-opening look at our world—and the animals with whom we share it. It’s dramatic but not too preachy, detailed but not too graphic—a great nature doc for the whole family.

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