Film Review: African Cats

Documentary African Cats is the quintessential Disney product in terms of narrative style and values. It is an enjoyable watch, even though it is light on educational content.

African Cats is a film that follows the stories of lions and cheetahs in the Serengeti. Sita, a lone cheetah must nurse her five cubs and teach them how to survive in the wild. Fang, meanwhile leads a pride of lions that includes lioness Layla and her daughter Mara. As the young animals grow, they learn just how deadly their environment can be…

African Cats functions very much in the same style as a Disney animated feature. The parallels between this film and The Lion King are clear. The narrative is akin to that of a Disney film, although the reality of the wild does not always match the narrative.

The emphasis of African Cats is firmly on storytelling, rather than informing. Children should find the film enjoyable, but adults may desire more educational nuance. African Cats concentrates firmly on two sets of animal families and their fortunes; there is very little about the species themselves or indeed other animals that feature in the film. There is little of the fact so ingrained in an Attenborough documentary, for example.

African Cats offers some beautiful images of the majestic landscape. The establishing shots are a particularly successful in portraying the vast natural surroundings. The animals are also beautifully shot. The film shies away from any really grisly depictions, despite some inevitable deaths.

Patrick Stewart narrates the British version of African Cats. The actor’s voiceover works well in the context of dramatic storytelling. Given the style of the film, the narration is not out of place, but perhaps would have been in a more traditional documentary.

African Cats is entertaining, although additional facts and information would have given the film more substance. Nevertheless, if it functions to get children curious about nature, it is definitely a good thing.