>> African Cats (2011)

Title: African Cats

Genre: Family

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson

Director: Alastair Fothergill & Keith Scholey

Studio: Disneynature

Runtime: 89 min.

In Theatres: April 22, 2011

MPAA Rating: G

Rating: 2.96 (out of 4.00)

Grade: B

Official Site


For the first week of release, Disneynature will donate a percentage of ticket sales to help save the African savanna.

Every year, Disney's wildlife friendly studio, Disneynature, releases a new film that highlights the world that is rarely seen by the human eye. And to further support the celebration of wildlife, each film has been released on Earth Day. 2 years ago, Disneynature released Earth. Last year, it was Oceans. Now, audiences can help themselves to African Cats. 

In the heart of the African savanna, African Cats centers on the story of three different families and how exactly they connect to each other. South of the river that divides the savanna lies the River Pride. This pride of lions consists of the alpha male, Fang, numerous lioness' and their cubs. Of these cubs, the focus stays on Mara, who must learn to survive both within the pride and on her own. On the opposite side of the river, two different families are introduced in the form of the lion Kali and his sons, along with Sita and her cheetah cubs. While Kali attempts to take control of both sides of the river, Sita is determined to help her children become the greatest hunters in the savanna. Although all 3 stories collide together, each tale is special on its' own and helps audiences realize what it truly is like to live in the wild. 

Having seen the two other Disneynature films, African Cats fits in perfectly to the film series. Incredibly well-filmed shots take up most of the films' runtime and cause many jaws to drop. In one scene, Fang, the pride leader, stares an alligator in the eyes and roars from 2 feet away. On paper, it sounds fun, but captured on camera has a slightly more impressive reaction. Disneynature never seems to disappoint when it comes to cinematography. And African Cats is no exception. 

With a runtime of nearly 90 minutes, constantly excellent shots won't carry a film. The storyline here starts out as impressive and well done for a nature feature. Unfortunately, overtime, the progression of the story hits a standstill and seems to repeat itself. Halfway through the film, African Cats begins to feel like a poorly constructed fighting video game, where danger appears and battles commence. The pause in story is abruptly clear and sets the pacing back an unfortunate amount. Even the wrap-up of story feels different from the tale that captured hearts from the beginning. Granted, filmmakers were only given so much footage to piece together a continuous story but the pacing takes a few too many blows to not acknowledge mild boredom. 

In the long run though, the mission of African Cats is to open eyes as to how these felines live and survive in the harsh and unforgiving plains of the savanna. Ultimately, African Cats is successful in this mission and rewards itself by containing some incredible footage and a great, albeit short-lived, storyline that will have all ages of the family leaving with a smile and maybe even some tears. 


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