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The Sun movie review: ‘Bears'

I am so glad that I am not a salmon living in Alaska. A salmon must swim up stream, but once its journey is successful, along comes a brown bear.

Our stars of Disney’s newest nature film “Bears” are bears, of course – brown bears. Salmon is apparently an essential sustenance for their survival. But what about the poor fish? I guess that’s another movie.

In “Bears,” we are witness to one year in the life of a family of Alaskan brown bears, mother Sky and her cubs Amber and Scout. We know their names, because John C. Reilly, our cheesy narrator, tells us so. He also occasionally speaks “bear.” It is unfortunate that this movie is saddled with such a bothersome narration.

Although the story of our charming family isn’t ground-breakingly new, the visuals are appealing. Alaska is beautiful and so are the bears, the wolves and the other featured wildlife.

This is a short movie, but because of Reilly, it felt rather long. I think the idea was to have this tale appeal to children. But why or dumb down the film? It is not necessary, when you have this kind of footage.

The story is a simple one: survival. We are taken along the Alaskan terrain, witnessing our bear family members hold on to their lives, avoiding predator wolves and other bears. Most importantly, they are searching for food to provide them with protein, which will allow a healthy hibernation. Here is where the poor salmon come in. It seems that they are essential to the bears’ survival.

Unfortunately, “Bears” is disappointing. It is bland and mild. It tries to be exciting and cute, but it fails. All of the bears are brown, therefore confusing the viewer. Lacking distinct traits, the “characters” are difficult to discern.

The “plot” is repetitive. The 77 minutes is a series of episodes in which the bears are doing the same thing: searching for food or battling predators. But a sense of danger and adventure is missing.

I seriously think children, this film’s obvious target audience, will not care for “Bears.” But the movie could be saved with reediting, dropping the smarmy narration, dumping George Fenton’s pompous score and giving the salmon more screen time. I perked up in the middle of the film, when a short segment was devoted to the plight of these fish.

The end credits were the most interesting; they show the film crew’s capturing the animals’ actions and, in some instances, provoking the creatures.

This closing segment spoke volumes. What particular scenes did the filmmakers create? How real was the menace? There was closing footage of a wolf standing approximately 5 feet from a camera, slowly advancing toward the crew. I am certain this footage was edited into the sequence, when the wolf was threatening to attack the cubs.

Did the filmmakers manipulate nature? Perhaps they should have let nature take its own course.

I left the theater unmoved. The movie was just OK. I don’t think we go to the movies to leave at its conclusion with that feeling.

Most especially, a film about such magnificent creatures should enthrall, excite and entertain. “Bears” is just OK.


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