Movie Review: Beautiful Change with Born in China

Movie Review: Beautiful Change with Born in China
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About the Author

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville nearly 20 years. Currently, he studies Journalism at Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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If you can’t stand watching cuddly pandas hanging around for an hour and a half, stay far away from Born in China, Disney’s newest documentary adventure. But this isn’t some animated nuisance with crazy antics. Instead, real creatures and the stark, stunning Chinese landscape provide a refreshing change for family entertainment.

Disneynature is based on Walt Disney’s old True Life Adventures brand from the 1970s that was revived in 2009 with Earth. If you’ve seen and enjoyed other entries like African Cats, Bears, or Monkey Kingdom, the flavor is familiar. You can expect the same skillful cinematography and cutesy narrative.

But Born in China may be a welcome surprise for anyone who’s rolled their eyes at previous installments, or anyone off-put or new to nature documentaries. There’s a definitive focus for a collection of Chinese species that creates an almost cathartic response.

The movie is filled with striking landscapes of the Chinese mountains, capturing the wilderness with an awesome beauty. Mixes with some tight direction and a lush musical score, it’s nice to have a cinematic experience that’s so visually strong without needing CGI effects to create the action.

Other than the oft-advertised pandas, the film also features snow leopards, monkeys, antelope and cranes. The story follows the five different species through a year in the boreal ecosystem, from Spring until the end of winter one year later.

Photo: Buena Vista Pictures.

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The Disneynature team has done a great job keeping track of the animals, and threading the common theme of the relationship with children and their families. The film’s weakest moments are when the writers are desperately trying to create a cheesy plot from the animal action.

It’s much more interesting when we see the animals’ natural behaviours instead of the absurd names and Hollywood-esque storylines. It also makes the movie far more important, though nothing is so saccharine it’s unwatchable. On the contrary – it’s important audiences (and especially kids) have a chance to see more real movies like this.

Born in China is a great choice for families and a wonderful to celebrate Earth Day too. Even better, the a portion of ticket sales from the movie opening week (now until Thursday, April 27th) go to the Disney Conservation Fund.

This is one of Disney’s more enthralling documentaries, and is a treat to see with some fabulous animals and a lush, lovely setting on a grand scale. It’s likely to be overlooked by cynical viewers, but the amplified size and deep Chinese heritage provide a thrilling setting for a different kind of silver screen escapism.

Born in China
3 out of 4 stars.

G, 81 minutes. Family Documentary.
Directed by Lu Chuan.
Narrated by John Krasinski.
Now Playing at Cineplex Winston Churchill.

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