Film Review: Chimpanzee


Disney Nature’s Chimpanzee is a cute story-based documentary that will appeal in particular to young viewers.

Chimpanzee tells the story of Oscar, a baby chimpanzee growing up on the Ivory Coast. Oscar needs to learn the ways of the jungle, but a rival group of chimpanzees threaten his peaceful existence…

Chimpanzee is aimed at a young audience. The film should do well to entertain and inform them. Older viewers may request more factual details.

The film fits the Disney mould in terms of narrative. Similar to last year’s African Cats, it is a documentary but one that has an overriding narrative. The narration is much more story-telling than it is filling in factual detail. By giving the animals back stories and the the like, Chimpanzee comes across as a tale foremost, and a documentary secondarily.

The story that the film focuses on is rather touching. This is why Chimpanzee works well as a narrative. The rather interesting direction the story takes does have factual content, and reveals something unusual. As a protagonist, Oscar is incredibly cute, and fits in seamlessly with the main animal characters of several of Disney’s animated features.

The naming of the antagonist in Chimpanzee is a little silly, but should make viewers laugh. The choice of name draws direct parallels with an animated classic; it is clear what filmmakers are trying to do here.

Chimpanzee features some wonderful photography. There is a good use of time-lapse photography in particular. Chimpanzee captures the scale and the vibrancy of the terrain. The end credits sequence gives a good indication of the work that went into filming in such an environment.

Chimpanzee is a great way of engaging young children in learning about nature. Mature viewers should still be entertained, but may wish to have learned more.

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.