Bears a barely bearable nature film

Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comApril 18, 2014 

A few years ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Roy Disney. Emphasize the word privilege. As the family historian, Disney was a fascinating interview. Making the whole experience other worldly was how much Disney looked and sounded like his visionary Walt Disney Studios founding uncle Walt.

At the time, Disney headed the newly formed Disneynature arm of Walt Disney Studios. It's responsible for the award-winning TV series Earth and the movie Earth that featured the best parts of the TV series. It also did the acclaimed documentary Chimpanzee.

In our conversation, I told him how I grew up with the wonderful animal and insect documentaries his uncle produced in the 1950s and '60s. Narrators Winston Hibler and Rex Allen packed the then state-of-the-art films with brilliant and often funny narration. That writing, perfectly timed bits and exceptional animal and insect scenes made them a treasure to a young, impressionable and eager-to-learn kid.

Today, I still love a great nature documentary, and until Bears, Disneynature has delivered. It's not that Bears is a bad movie. On the contrary, the shots of a mother Grizzly and her cubs doing things mother bears and cubs do are incredible.

The cinematographers get so close to the animals that you can see the individual hairs on their bodies. You view the day-to-day challenges the mother bear has raising her two curious cubs. Breathtaking panoramic shots of mountains, the Alaskan ocean coast and lush forests, meadows and rivers dot the movie's landscape and help make Bears a visual feast.

It's the day-to-day events that aren't that interesting and when you factor in the awful writing and John C. Reilly's (Anchorman 2, Chicago) flat, boring narration, Bears is barely bearable. It made me want to turn off the sound and just watch the animals do what animals do.

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Directors: Alastair Fothergill, Keith Scholey

Stars: John C. Reilly

Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars

Rated G but with mature themes and animal violence. It's playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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