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Home > Art & Music, Written Reviews, Written Reviews > “Bears” a Stunning Adventure (Blu-ray Review)

“Bears” a Stunning Adventure (Blu-ray Review)

BEARS boxart

 

Review by John Delia

Breathtaking cinematography captures another Disney Nature feature that compels, mesmerizes and entertains.  Now on Blu-ray and DVD the new adventure Bears takes you on a journey that spans a year in the life of these huge animals in Alaska.  Nicely directed, amazingly captured on film, courageous and adorable it’s an entertaining film for the whole family.  

Powerful vistas open the film starting with snow covered mountains in Alaska where Sky a mother brown bear pops out of her den with two young cubs, Scout and Amber. They were born over the long winter and now Sky has to get her two youngsters to food.  But the trek is long and arduous over the snow covered mountains to the lands far below and with Spring upon them there’s danger from avalanche and the slippery slopes.

Sky with Scout and Amber leave their den to look for food

Sky with Scout and Amber leave their den to look for food

The cameras follow the threesome on a very delicate journey that’s a matter of life or death.  Along the way Sky gets into some very dangerous situations including a battle to save her cubs from other bears and wolves.  Keith Scholey and Adam Chapman work closely with the camera crews to get all the necessary shots to complete a full story.  His men shoot from several angles and from some very precarious positions to get all the action and drama.  Putting it all together is the magic that you will see on your home screens.

The creative cinematography makes the film a truly awesome event.  Shots of the mountain range, seaside, forests and streams are remarkable and a movie in itself. Getting the bears to react is another thing and principal photographers along with naturalist guide Simyra Taback-Hlebechuk puts our stars on the right paths unmolested and moving without a single hitch. Taking two years to make the film, it took a dedicated team with tenacity to pull it off and they did beyond belief.

Sky looks for danger as her cubs huddle close

Sky looks for danger as her cubs huddle close

The final touches were getting a dramatic and sometimes whimsical voice that could narrate the film.  They chose John C. Reilly, a well know actor whose voice is easily recognizable.  Guiding the audience through the whole adventure, Reilly muses, educates, dramatizes and delights. Most of the youngsters will recognize his voice as Wreck-it Ralph and adults have probably seen many of his 74 roles including films like the comedies Step Brothers, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

The music establishes the mood and enhances the danger in the movie and composer George Fenton nails both. The Emmy award winner for “The Blue Planet” captures the wonder of Alaska and the fears that drive these awesome animals to live for another tomorrow. Olivia Holt from Disney’s cable show “Kickin’ It” sings “Carry On” during the end credits and it’s also available in the Bonus Features as a Music Video.

BONUS FEATURES:

The Bonus features have several extras each about 6 to 7 minutes long.  Not boring but to the point, the short vignettes answer a lot of questions and entertain. The best value is getting the combo box set that includes the DVD, the Blu-ray and a Digital download that you can use on the go.

Photographers stay hidden to get the best shots

Photographers stay hidden to get the best shots

“Welcome to Alaska” gives an overview of Katmai National Park and how the camera crews set up to get the best shots for the film.
“The Future for the Bears” Director Keith Scholey goes over how we can help the wild animals including the bears that live in habitats around the world.
“A Guide to Living with Bears” naturalist guide Simyra Taback-Hlebechuk goes over how she worked to make sure the bears were unharmed during the shooting and how to she helped the camera crew avoid danger.
“How did they Film That?” Shows how they got the shots of Sky and her cubs leaving the den and how photographers shot scenes from under the water.
“‘Carry On’ music video by Olivia Holt”

The Blu-ray and DVD formats are both exquisite to watch on the 16×9 widescreen TV with full screen presentation at Aspect Ration 1.78:1. The transfer from theater to home video shows no change in values and I found no distortion what so ever.  The colors are bright and picture quality spectacular in HD.  The Blu-ray does show a denser pixel and therefore a bit brighter, but the youngsters will never know the difference.

Photographers get shots of a wolf staying well away from the dangerous animal with naturalist guide Simyra Taback-Hlebechuk in control

Photographers get shots of a wolf staying well away from the dangerous animal with naturalist guide Simyra Taback-Hlebechuk in control

The sound quality right from you HD television is very good.  I enhanced the sound with a sound bar and ran it through a second time with a more penetrating effect.  This is great for adults, but children will like the film either way.  Whether you play the Blu-ray in your great room or the kids take the DVD to their own room, the experience comes through on both.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  One of the better Disney adventures I have seen in a while. (A)

Specifications and additional film information:

  • Cast: John C. Reilly, narrator
  • Directors: Keith Scholey and Adam Chapman
  • MPAA Rating: G for general audiences
  • Genre: Documentary, Adventure, Family
  • Running Time: 1 hr 33 min    
  • Video Release Date: August 3, 2014
  • Original Film Release Date: April 18, 2014
  • Language: English
  • Format: Blu-ray/DVD
  • Audio: Blu-ray- 5.1 DTS Master Audio, DVD- 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • Video: 16×9 1080p Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
  • Subtitles: English, SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles
  • Number of Discs: 2 Discs
  • Distributed by: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

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