Disneynature: Wings of Life

Written by George Taylor. Posted in Features, The Disney Review

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Published on April 27, 2013 at 12:01 am with 3 Comments

Wings of Life, released in celebration of Earth Day, is the latest documentary from Disneynature. Previous films from the Disneynature label have received critical acclaim and minimal box office success. So, how does their latest offering compare? Jeff and George share their thoughts on Wings of Life.

George: We’re really big fans of the DisneyNature films in the Taylor household. We have all of them at home and I’ve reviewed them here and at Imaginerding. The annual release of the latest one on Blu-ray is here and it’s probably the most gorgeous and jaw-dropping one in the oeuvre. As much as we ooh and aah’d over the film, there were also some moments that made us a little squeamish.

Jeff: Just like the Taylor’s, Casa Heimbuch also enjoys the DisneyNature films. It truly does look spectacular in blu-ray form. I was amazed at how fantastic some of the shots looked. Even things that we have seen a million times before, in countless other documentaries, such as a humming bird in slow motion, look fresh and new here. That said, the film isn’t without its flaws.

George: Flaws? Are you thinking about the heavy-handed environmental message? Like most causes, there always has to be someone yelling the loudest to get the message across. In this case, the message is that a lot of insects and animals that we might think of as pests are completely necessary for the circle of life. Of course, like most nature documentaries, there are moments when the story supersedes the actual process of life. Did I mention there were several times I had to avert my eyes?

Jeff: Exactly. My main problem with the film was that, unlike other DisneyNature films, it really had to force a “story” in our face in order to make it work. Some of the messages it was trying to convey were lost in the jilted, overly dramatic narration. It took me out of it, and I sometimes struggled to get back in. Even at 88 minutes, it seemed to go on too long.

George: I think you’ve nailed it with the overly dramatic narration. I was trying to picture an appropriate outlet for the film, because it wasn’t a great family film and it’s not a great educational film. It’s too generic for high school and college, yet too kinda gross for elementary schools. As I mentioned earlier, the film is jaw-dropping gorgeous and there were many scenes in which we found ourselves rewinding it (can you rewind a Blu-ray?). Sadly, there were no special features. I’m always interested in seeing how they filmed the DisneyNature features, especially when they have to get close up to the creepy-crawlies.

Jeff: I think the lack of special features is one of the things that kind of hurt the film a lot. I really enjoy the behind the scenes on the other DisneyNature films, even though some of them were brief. It’s always a great insight into the film-making process, and it fascinates me. Unfortunately, I think the lack of any of that hurts the re-watchability of this film. But as George said, it sort of gets stuck, audience-wise, by trying to balance between them, and having a hard time finding the right tone. Again, though, it is a truly gorgeous film, and that alone makes it at least worth of a weekend rental.

Are you going to add this one to your collection? What do you think about the Disneynature films?

By Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor

The Disney Review is written and edited by Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor

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About George Taylor

George has been obsessed with Disney theme parks since the first time he saw a photo of the Haunted Mansion in the early 70s. He started writing about Disney in 2007 and has amassed one of the world's largest Disney-related libraries.

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  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    The problem with these Disney Nature films is that they only last in the theater for a very short time (and who goes to see a nature film in the theater) and then when it comes to Blu-Ray where you might actually want to watch it at home, Disney wants an insane amount of money for it (especially considering there are no bonus features).

    They need to price these right and they might just increase their base and profitability.

  • JiminyCricketFan

    Walt Disney was far ahead of his time when it came to nature films. The problem is now there is the Discovery Channel and other venues that feature nature 24/7. That makes the fllm/DVD approach a hard sell.

  • WorldLover71

    I’ll still take a Winston Hibler narrated True Life Adventure anytime. They aren’t high definition or anything but the photography is beautiful and the story telling, even when there is no plot, is wonderful.