‘Bears’ are heartwarming family entertainment

The last time a feature film took me off to Alaska to see bears, it was a precautionary tale about a foolhardy American making too friendly and becoming bear fodder, but “Bears” is a DisneyNature production aimed at educating children in time for Earth Day (22 April 2014). Bear fans (Bruins and UCB alum), nature lovers and outdoor photographers and their families should all catch this heartwarming feature. “Bears” opens on Friday, 18 April 2014.

The people factor has been taken out except at the end so be sure to stick around for the credits. Of course, the narration (provided by John C. Reilly, the Cellophane Man Amos Hart in the 2002 musical motion picture “Chicago”) is classic Disney, a mix of anthropomorphizing and hokey humor, but the cinematography will give you an appreciation for technological advancements–or so you’ll think until the end.

The beginning will expose you to Grizzly bears in a particularly vulnerable stage–one we don’t usually get to see. The two cubs, Amber and Scout, haven’t get gotten enough hair to be fluffy and their noses are still pink. You’ll feel as if you’ve gotten a sneak peak of the bear cubs without the benefit or deficit of smell-orama. No thanks on the thought of sniff and scratch here.

Yet directors Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey aren’t satisfied with close-ups of mama bear Sky and her two cubs the clingy Amber and the adventurous Scout. They give us soaringly glorious birds-eye views of the Alaskan mountains where Sky and her cubs hibernate, finally emerging to find themselves threatened by abstract icy monsters–avalanches, on their way to the coast where they will eat.

Sky’s progress is hindered by the slower cubs and she dare not leave them for too long, even amongst other bears. Male bears such as the biggest neighborhood bruiser, Magnus, and the exile but experienced salmon fish-catcher Chinook might kill either of the cubs. An adult bear wouldn’t worry about a wolf, particularly a single wolf like the creamy white Tikaani, but should he separate either of the cubs from their mother, it could be a fatal mistake.

Watching Sky’s struggle to raise her cubs when about 50 percent of bear cubs don’t make it past their first year, is engrossing and directors Forthergill and Scholey do build up the suspense of Amber and Scout’s survival. Bear cubs usually stay with their mothers for 2-3 years.

After watching all the salmon fishing, you’ll probably leave the movie theater with a craving for salmon–raw like sashimi or with a bit more civilization put in the preparation. If you stay for the end and credits, you’ll get to see in part how the cast and crew got all those gloriously up close and very personal shots.



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