You may remember Disneynature releases "African Cats" to theaters
today in honor of this important holiday. My friend, Jeff Mitchell, is an
awesome movie critic. (Check out his site to find out who's doing what
in movieland and if it's worth your time.) He generously agreed to catch
an advanced screening of the film so he could offer my readers his
review in time for Earth Day and the weekend. What a great guy, huh?
Enjoy ... and pop over to Mitch On Movies when you have a minute.
You'll be glad you did.
|(Image is Courtesy of Disneynature,|
"African Cats" 3 / 4 stars - Sita! Mara! Layla! Kali! Fang! No, these are not the names of the latest "American Idol" contestants, they are some of the wild animals - or more specifically, cats - you'll meet in the latest feature from Disneynature ("Oceans", "Earth"). Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, "African Cats" follows the drama surrounding the lives of a cheetah and her cubs, a lion and his sons, and a large pride of other lions in Kenya. Directors Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey impress with gorgeous sweeping overhead shots of the Kenyan plains along with the smallest details of lion cubs cooing while playing with their mother on a given pristine morning.
It should be noted that earlier this year, National Geographic released a similar film, "The Last Lions", and I found it more effective than "African Cats." "The Last Lions" centered its story on only one lioness and her difficult journey, and the film's singular focus successfully generated - from me - a measurable vested interest (and strong emotional tugs) to her troublesome odyssey.
In other words, less was more.
And "African Cats" seemed to march in a rhythm where one terrible crisis occurs, followed by a cute shot of a turtle, and another hair-raising event takes place, followed by a fun scene of warthogs playing. Unfortunately, I started to predict the film's pattern after a little while. But I still enjoyed "African Cats." Fothergill's and Scholey's skillful abilities, fascinating shots and successful storytelling shouldn't be discounted. Look, any film that gets this pacifist hoping a cheetah will successfully chase down a harmless gazelle is a near-remarkable feat.