DisneyNature

IMAX Blue Planet DVD Crop

Earth Day was set up in conjunction with the growing environmental movement, and after 44 years that remains the main purpose of the occasion. But we can also think of this day as a time to celebrate the planet like it’s her birthday. Happy 4.54 billionth, Earth! Again! Therefore I’d like to not just devote the day to listing environmental issue films. Instead, I’ve compiled the best documentaries about Earth, as in the planet is the subject and these are portraits of her, both negative and positive. It’s a fairly brief list, because there aren’t a whole lot of nonfiction films qualified as being about or of the whole world. And I don’t want to just include them all just to fill the space, even though most of them are pretty good. I highly recommend all seven of the following nonfiction films to everyone living on Earth, which should be all of you (if not, hello extraterrestrial readers!), because it’s a good idea to know your home. READ MORE AT NONFICS

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Bears

Disneynature films are not for the faint of heart. The entertaining and educational series has consistently placed a premium on absolute veracity – even when it comes with a very palatable and painful cost. The last Disneynature film, Chimpanzee, was built almost entirely on tragedy, as it centered on a young chimp (adorably named Oscar) who struggled to survive after the sudden death of his mother. The film’s very plotline was centered around death – a natural and normal death, but death nonetheless – and the entire film was a steady mix of the sad and the joyful (Oscar is eventually taken under the furry arm of an unexpected surrogate parent – another male chimp). Back in 2011, death also hung thick over African Cats, with one plotline following a cheetah mom who eventually loses two of her five cubs to hunting hyenas, and another chronicling an aging lioness who must abandon her own cub to her pride after getting injured and feeling compelled to sneak off to die alone. Yet, for all the tears that Disneynature aficionados are seemingly doomed to shed (and, man, are you doomed to shed them), the films are also fiercely satisfying in ways that are hard to replicate in the majority of purely fictional, human-based settings. Yes, you’re going to cry, but damn if it’s not worth it. The latest Disneynature film, Bears, is no different than its predecessors – in fact, it’s the best of an already very fine bunch.

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Disney Monkey Kingdom 1

Who else is excited about Bears, the latest Disneynature documentary, which arrives in theaters next Friday? After taking last year off, the Mouse House is back for another Earth Day release, and sure it’ll feature a lot of anthropomorphizing narration but at least that narration is being spoken by John C. Reilly. And with it also comes the first trailer for next year’s feature (yay, they’re back on an annual track), which is titled Monkey Kingdom. Disney has already gone ahead and debuted the spot a week early, though, and while it doesn’t have any celebrity voiceover (I don’t think this one’s has been revealed yet), it is entirely soundtracked with the singing voice of Lorde. Of course it is. After all, she has a song called “Royals,” perfect for a movie with the word “kingdom” in the title, though the tune in this trailer is “Team,” which also fits because of the lyric “living in ruins of a palace within my dreams.” And the movie is about macaque monkeys who are living in ruins of a former Buddhist palace (well, temple), not in their dreams but in, I believe, Sri Lanka. At one point in the video they kind of sing along, as do a deer and a lizard, while a tiger looks on at them like they’re a bunch of lame pop music lovers. Or does he just want to eat them? 

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bears

Now that D23 is over and Disney has made all of their big announcements and debuts in the manner their corporate hivemind has deemed appropriate, the time for promoting their upcoming projects to the general public is upon us, and in order to get that job done, their nature documentary wing, Disneynature, has just released an official trailer for its next big documentary, the straightforwardly titled Bears. Disney is a company who’s been known for making jaw-droppingly beautiful nature documentaries all the way back since the late 40s, but ever since they founded Disneynature in 2008, they’ve really recommitted themselves to getting the most modern HD technology available out there into the wilds of the world in order to capture images so grand and beautiful it’s hard to imagine they happen on this planet. If you’ve seen any of their previous stuff, like Earth or Oceans, then you know what great work they do, and from the looks of this trailer for Bears, a more focused subject matter does not mean they’ve sacrificed any of their ability to wow.

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DisneyNature

Joining the ranks of DisneyNature’s Earth, Oceans, African Cats, and Chimpanzee, the studio has now unveiled a first look at their latest entry – Bears. The latest of their Earth Day offerings, Bears centers on a family of, well, bears, with the film focusing on a family of Alaskan grizzly bears. Co-directed by Alastair Fothergill (who has directed three other DisneyNature features) and Keith Scholey (who also directed African Cats with Fothergill), the film looks to give us a very intimate look inside the life of a typical American bear. Oh, who are we kidding? Bears looks to give us the dry heaves, the wet sobs, and the sort of in-theater wailing we haven’t experienced since Chimpanzee. Stock up on your tissues now. Get to know DisneyNature’s Bears (and relive the glory of some of the studio’s other films and their indelible animal characters) after the break.

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The Reject Report - Large

A chimpanzee, Zac Efron, Steve Harvey, and Katniss – Not Jennifer Lawrence – all have their palms on a brand new Dodge Challenger. Hemi. The last person with their hand on the car wins it, and, unfortunately for Katniss – Still not Jennifer Lawrence – who could afford 10 Dodge Challengers right now – the game’s been going for four days straight. She’s exhausted. The other players are all fresh, and a few of them have heavy fan support. Who will walk away with this magnificent car or the claim of #1 at the box office if you’re into the whole analogy thing? One things for certain. The chimpanzee was already distracted by a low-hanging branch. Let the contest begin.

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For most of its slim 78 minute runtime, Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield‘s Chimpanzee focuses on the daily minutiae of a large group of chimpanzees living in the Ivory Coast’s Tai Forest – their eating habits, sleeping patterns, and how they interact on a social level. It’s not particularly exciting, but it is interesting and it does serve an important purpose when the film finally gets to the meat of its story – it serves to lull its audience into a false sense of safety. Centered primarily on a three-year-old chimp named Oscar and his mother Isha, the film certainly benefits from its built-in “awww” factor, because baby Oscar is both adorable and engaging. Despite the fact that his family unit includes other baby chimps, there’s no question as to why Fothergill and Linfield trained their film on young Oscar, even before we get to the heart of the story (which requires a focus on Oscar) – he’s a star. A G-rated film from Disneynature, Chimpanzee provides a charming slice-of-life look at Oscar, Isha, and their family group’s daily existence that should amuse family members of all ages. While it does come packaged with some overly-humanizing narration work by Tim Allen, the film eventually turns into a production with an eye-opening plot and a very incredible story to tell. Though the threat of the “evil” chimp Scar and his band of “soldiers” is ever-lurking, and a bit too much time is spent hammering home the point that baby Oscar is […]

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kevin-reportcard-header

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dives into Oceans, becomes one of The Losers and fomulates a Back-Up Plan

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Fat Guys at the Movies

Kevin and Neil connect in the Magical Studio in the Sky after a long week of movie-watching. Like the wusses at Comedy Central, the Fat Guys refuse to show a depiction of the Prophet Muhammed. So there.

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Fat Guys at the Movies

Neil leads a protest against the studios by refusing to see any of the movies out this week. Kevin suffers through The Soloist while he takes his kids to work (i.e., gets them out of school to see a movie) on Take Your Child to Work Day.

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