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Bears
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From "Bears"
Bears
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3½ Stars - Good
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Directed By
Alastair Fothergill, Keith Scholey, Adam Chapman
Run Time
1 hour 18 minutes
Cast
John C. Reilly
Theatre Release
April 18, 2014 by Disneynature

There are three great reasons to watch Bears, the latest documentary in a series of theatrical releases from Disneynature.

Reason No. 1: The Title Characters

Who doesn't love bears?

This is a beautifully shot film about Alaska's brown bears, particularly focusing on a family of three—a momma bear named Sky and her cubs, Scout and Amber. They're just arbitrary names that the filmmakers assigned to the creatures for the sake of telling a kid-friendly story. The movie follows our ursine friends on a nearly year-long adventure, starting with some how-did-they-do-that footage of the cubs' birth while still in their den.

We see their ridiculously cute first wobbly steps as they emerge from the den at the verge of spring. We see them trying to keep up with Sky as she leads them down the mountain slopes—dodging an avalanche along the way!—to a verdant meadow, where they feed on grass with other bear families. We meet the massive Magnus, a half-ton alpha male who strikes fear into all the other bears, and his rival Chinook, an outcast who apparently won't hesitate to gobble up one of the cubs. (He doesn't, but these films always include perils—some quite real, some concocted—to keep the story moving along. Our protagonists need to face some sense of danger, right?)

We learn that Scout is a rambunctious, fearless rascal who sometimes wanders away and gets himself into trouble. We learn that Amber is more of a momma's girl, staying close to Sky while taking it all in. And we learn that Sky is a mostly competent mom willing to do anything for her children—including fight off intruders who regard them as a potential meal. It's a joy to watch her lead the ...

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