BORN IN CHINA
***1/2 (out of 5)
April 21, 2017
Pandas as THEMSELVES
Snow Leopards as THEMSELVES
Golden Monkeys as THEMSELVES
John Krasinski as NARRATOR
Directed by: Chuan Lu
BY KEVIN CARR
By now, you should know what to expect form the Disneynature movies. There’s gorgeous nature photography, adorable baby animals and a whimsical story of survival told from the point of view of one of these babies as it grows up.
“Born in China” is no different. In fact, it goes back to the original well of the first Disneynature movies like “Earth” and “Oceans” by telling several stories at once.
In this round of nature films for kids, the movie focuses on three families of animals living in the wilds of China. First we have Dawa, a snow leopard in the high, mountainous region. She must protect her cubs and provide for them in the harsh climate. Then there’s Tao Tao, a golden snub-nosed monkey learning his ropes as an adolescent in the family group. Finally, there’s the story of Mei Mei, a baby panda born to a protective mother.
Additional focus is put on a family of Chiru, a Tibetan antelope, gathering together as a herd for protection as the females head off to give birth to their offspring. A minor look at the majesty of cranes, revered in Chinese culture, rounds out the stories.
Much of plot points will be recognized from other Disneynature films like “African Cats,” “Chimpanzee” and “Monkey Kingdom.” In particular, we see familiar themes like a scarred interloper challenging the alpha male of the group, a dangerous predator almost snatching our hero from the trees and a group of invaders taking over staked-out territory.
Sure, the stories woven together are a bit contrived, manufacturing some drama from disparate footage. However, that’s to be expected for a movie like this. And, it helps make the stories of nature a little more digestible to the younger viewers. Though be aware that in this episode from the Disneynature family show a bit more of the harsh realities of nature. You don’t see animals slaughtered in the hunt, but there are a few instances where prey is seen in its true purpose.
In the end, “Born in China” is a beautifully shot film that fits right into the Disneynature mold. They’re never huge moneymakers, but they continue the important tradition of the Walt Disney Company presenting quality family-friendly nature programming.