Dave White
African Cats Review

Dave's Rating:


The circle of life? Turns out it includes death.

Who's In It: Samuel Jackson (narration)

The Basics: Lion cub "Mara" and "Sita" the cheetah are the main "characters" in this nature documentary about wild cats living on the savanna in Kenya. And how do I know what their proper names are? Because Sam Jackson told me, that's how. He narrates this anthropomorphic adventure as the feral felines endure a season of harsh times and predators. And according to the goofy script he was paid to read, these animals are as full of human emotions and motivations as the ones you remember from The Aristocats.

What's The Deal: It's not Jackson's fault. Blame whoever decided to scrap cold scientific reality for warm mommy-and-her-precious-cubs heartwarmth. But it's kind of hard to watch a cheetah mother staring off into space after her cubs have been chosen for lunch by a pack of hyenas and truly believe that she's grieving like Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice. It also feels like a weird kind of cheating when the movie refuses to give character names to certain animals, knowing before the audience does that the cats are about to, in the euphemistic terms of the narration, "never be seen again."

Hey Parents, Disneynature Has A Zoology Lesson/Nightmare For Your Little Ones: All descriptions of animals-eating-animals in this review aren't exaggeration. It's sort of like a live-action version of The Lion King, except this "Circle of Life" contains some lyrics Elton John forgot to write. The grisly reality of female lions gnawing on the bloody haunches of still half-alive zebras, as well as the aforementioned hyenas abducting baby cheetahs and crocodiles snapping and lunging at just about anything they can, is 100% front and center. I watched a tiny little girl go into shrieking hysterics during the press screening, so just be aware that this one's for older/tougher kids.

What's Good About It: Everything else. The cinematography is beautiful, the Kenyan countryside is amazing to look at, all giant vistas and time-lapse season changes. And the animal footage the filmmakers get is spectacular. If you want to see real wild creatures doing their real wild thing, then you'll forgive the dorky storytelling. Or you could wear earplugs.

Opening Week Collaboration With African Wildlife Foundation: If you're going to go see this movie you'll be doing the most good for these animals if you do so in the first week of release. From April 22 - 28 a portion of the proceeds from the week's ticket sales will be donated to them.


Comments (8)

Courtney - 4-22-2011 9:03 PM
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I think this movie was heart felt and it was a beautiful story about the lifes of these poor animals. We do not have the same feelings as them we are much different we dont have to fight for our lives to get food we only have to go to the store and buy it these animals are our food and thats why im a vegetarian. its just wrong what we do.

Carlos - 4-23-2011 12:14 AM
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I agree with you on the movie showing feelings on the big cats, BUT i support that because its a way to make people care about them. When it comes to conservation, this is a great step towards education. Towards having support on conserving these animals. This way they make you feel how they feel, putting yourself in their spot...its not that easy surviving in the wild. Also, I support the movie that has REALITY. Like the "lions gnawing on the bloody haunches of still half-alive zebras." Little ones should learn death is a part of life in the wild. People need to come out of their box and not be surprised of what really happens around the world. The earlier, the better, the more one will understand an animal's lifestyle. Deuces!

Wouldn't You Like to Know - 4-25-2011 5:14 AM
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I agree and dissagree with that last comment. In a way, adding story helps educate certain people better that normally wouldn't see these types of movie (like children), but for others (me included) it distracts too much. I want fact, not fiction. Why would I go see a documentary that has the narrator making stuff up along the way? I wouldn't. That's my opinion anyway. Take it for what it is.

Carlos - 4-25-2011 11:06 AM
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I just watched....its not even bloody at all how you describe it for children. Like I was not content because they did not put everything there...the killing process. It's a normal thing...it should be, I mean we freaking eat meat everyday (well at least Americans do). Andddd I didnt like much of how they tried to make the Big Cats the good guys...really? There's no sides when it comes to nature, there's only survival. What about the survival of poor little gazelles??? It was kind of lame for Samuel Jackson to say "Success" when a baby impala/gazelle was about to be eaten!!! wow...let's put ourselves in their position..."Success, the lioness caught a baby human" smiley face smiley face!!!! -_- ...lets try to keep equality on the picture

Cat Fish - 4-27-2011 3:18 PM
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You do realize that the wildlife biologists over there generally tend to give names the animals right? In fact, it's possible that the names used in the film are actually the ones used by the real researchers, although I don't know for sure. And as for horrifying children, they cut away quicker than on most nature documentaries, maybe some can be a little upsetting but come on how overprotective can people get these days! And who are we to say that animals don't have feelings? In fact, more and more it has turned out that that whole crowd was actually the arrogant and more off-base crowd, dead set on reserving everything special for man alone, more an dmore things once reserved for the ream of man alone have been disproved within the last

Adultspan - 4-28-2011 10:38 PM
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My 4th grader found this film to be very upsetting. I can't imagine younger ones enjoying watching main characters die and suffer. This film is for little kids like ALIENS was for teenagers. Far too much dramatic tension and threat to helpless cubbies to call this a G rated movie. Save your money.

the little fockers - 10-08-2011 1:02 PM
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havent seen it but i bet its really good

Damian b - 10-14-2011 12:31 AM
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Amazing movie that's it !!! Even plants have feelings!!! Do you know? ..... We are animals too.... In fact the worst ones!!! They kill because their nature, we kill because we like it!!! That is normal, this is disgusting.

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