( Max score: 100 )
From Disneynature, the studio that brought you Earth and Oceans, comes the epic journey African Cats. Set against one of the wildest places on Earth, you'll experience the extraordinary adventure of two families as they strive to make a home in an untamed land. Stunning high-definition images take your breath away as you come face-to-face with these majestic kings of the savanna.
AFRICAN CATS takes viewers deep into the breathtaking African savanna to witness the heart-stopping rivalry between two lion prides and the epic journey of one brave cheetah family. Shot over the course of two and a half years using state-of-the-art camera equipment, it captures the awe-inspiring beauty of one of the wildest places on Earth as it tells the dramatic and often intimate stories of Mara, an endearing lion cub who strives to grow up with her mothers strength, spirit and wisdom; Sita, a fearless cheetah and single mother of five mischievous newborns; and Fang, a proud leader of the pride who must defend his family from a rival lion clan.
I generally tend to enjoy documentaries of this type and although I didn't catch African Cats during its theatrical run I hoped to have the opportunity to review it on Blu-ray. The film has been dramatized and focuses on the River Lion Pride and Sita the cheetah as she strives to protect/raise her brood of cubs amidst the various dangers of the wild. It personalizes, if you will, the interpretation of their interaction/actions as they strive to survive on the Masai Mara National Reserve in Africa. This is done to excellent effect through the use of stunning photography and Samuel L. Jackson's running narration. As with any nature based documentary there is an understandably visceral aspect that goes along with observing animals in the wild. I found the connection to Sita's story to be the more rewarding. Cheetahs are amazing animals and watching them in action is intriguing. Owen Newman and his team captured some exquisitely rendered footage of Sita chasing down a Thompson Gazelle. Generally speaking the cinematography throughout is top notch and allows an inside vantage point that is awe-inspiring. The film plays through to a conclusion that allows us to see the outcome for both families. I found African Cats to be an entertaining and informative documentary film that captures the familial bonds, visceral nature and behavioral instincts of these majestic animals in an up close and personal way that is sure to engage children and adults alike.
The film contains some nature based thematic/visual elements that could be disturbing to young viewers.
African Cats comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 28 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.9 Mbps.
This is a reference quality high definition presentation that boasts natural color, superlative depth, and high level detail. The nature defined color palette can be alluring as the resplendent earth toned hues leap from the 1.78:1 framed video. Contrast balance is spot on as the various shades of gray are gradationally revealing and whites appear bright with crisp highlights that preserve detail. With the majority of the film taking place during the daytime there isn't much reliance on detailed shadows and delineated blacks however where appropriate their integration blended well with the film's elements. Resolution is excellent as the vastness and scope of the imagery offers lucid, three dimensional, acuity that looks marvelous in high definition. The beautifully captured footage can be captivating as the richness of color, rendering of detail, and near infinite sense of depth and dimension are assuredly conveyed.
The lossless DTS-HD MA surround mix is an active one that renders this documentary film's soundtrack with aplomb. Samuel L. Jackson's running narration is clearly rendered with crisp articulation and sibilant free intonation. I felt that it could have been a bit more forward within the front soundstage but otherwise presented very well. The front three channels are integration nicely and combine high level detail/clarity with pinpoint imaging. The surrounds are effectively used to generate an enveloping soundscape filled with various sounds, near field panning effects during chases/battles etc. and blowing winds/rain. LFE presence is notable as bass response extends deep enough to shake the room on several occasions. This lossless audio mix mates perfectly with the source material and makes for an involving surround sound presentation.
African Cats is an entertaining and informative documentary film that captures the familial bonds, visceral nature and behavioral instincts of these majestic animals in an up close and personal way that is sure to engage children and adults alike. It makes its debut on Blu-ray Disc from Disney featuring reference quality high definition video, involving lossless surround sound and a limited supplemental package that is highlighted by the Filmmaker Annotations in movie experience. African Cats is recommended viewing for those that enjoy nature based documentaries or have a soft spot for ferocious cats.