Sunday, May 4, 2014

Bears (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


Disneynature's "Bears" is another satisfying virtual safari by the directing team of Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey of "African Cats" fame.

This adventure places us deep in the coastal ranges of Alaska in Winter. Like Lilliputian explorers, we are imbedded with a family of three brown bears. With the first intense shot, it is unclear whether these are bears or hirsute extraterrestrials from another star. Fur, marbled eyes of brown and pink snouts dominate the screen. But yes, these are three bears in the mode of a quasi fairy tale but very well done.

Sky, the mother, is a single parent. She alone must provide for her two cubs: Scout, a male and Amber, a female. Existentially, alone and together, the three face incredible obstacles to survive a first year. The cinematography is breathtaking rivaling any epic film of the past and present. The mountain peaks alone are as sensational and towering as anything depicted in this past year's hit "Gravity".

 Mary Shelley, Byron and even Captain America himself would turn purple with envy.

Despite the live action, the film progresses in the manner of an animated feature. Both Scout and Amber are photographed with cuddly lenses as if to have darting and roundish eyes. At one point Scout dances in an almost human fashion.

When the wolf appears, he is slope nosed, and slouch-footed. One can almost hear as if by telepathy, the voice of Jeremy Irons.

Despite such anthropomorphism and a folksy armchair narration by actor John C. Reilly, the action doesn't coddle its audience. But given its lack of savage pathos, that its predecessors "Chimpanzee" and "African Cats" contained, this bestial outing is clearly for kids. The only spilled blood is from some sacrificial salmon.

The most remarkable scenes are when Sky and her cubs are left in the wide expanses of white snow where they do resemble an actual human family, perhaps on vacation, or better yet and more realistically on a camping trip, determined to find the way home.

In this case, our single parent family is trying their best to reach a pool, brimming with quivering fish.

No matter what your maturation stage is, the appeal of "Bears" is delightfully universal, with or without a booster seat.

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