AT PRESENT, ONE OF THE MOVIE theaters I frequent had a portion of its entrance roped off. There was a sign hanging on the barrier that instructed visitors not to disturb or go near the nesting goose because she might attack. In the middle of this long patch of landscaped greenery was the goose sitting upon her nest. Seeing the goose sitting there looked weird to me because, except for this one patch of greenery, she was surrounded by concrete and glass. With people shopping at the outdoor mall I thought there would have been too much noise and activity for the mother goose. I knew geese were territorial and were not afraid to defend their area. When I came out from the movie theater the goose was standing out in the open near the curb. She still had an eye on her nest; but she watched me as I had to make my way around her, giving her enough space while getting to my car. Once I was safely seated I looked back at her and thought about the unsuspecting people who would not read the sign and get to close to her. I bet they got a nasty surprise. HAVING SEEN THAT MOTHER GOOSE REAFFIRMED a memory of me being told to always respect the bond between a mother and her child; there is nothing stronger than a mother defending her baby. I do not remember if I learned it in school or from that weekly television show hosted by Marlin Perkins. All I can recall is seeing a nature film clip of a pack of wildebeests being chased by a big African cat. Maybe it was a cheetah or lion that had focused its attention on one of the babies. When the baby could not keep up and swerved away from the pack, the cat changed directions to zero in on the little wildebeest. The mother saw what was happening and made a beeline towards the cat. She headbutted the cat in its side, knocking the animal over. It was enough time for the baby wildebeest to head back to the pack. I have so many more memories of adult animals nurturing their young. Seeing a mother chimpanzee teach her baby how to use a stick to dig food out from a hole or polar bear mothers teaching their young the necessary survival skills for the first 2 years of their lives; not to be rude, but some humans could learn a thing or two by watching their animal counterparts. One group worth watching would be the incredible penguins in this documentary. DESPITE HAVING ONE OF THE HARSHEST environments on the planet, Antarctica is the home of the Adelie penguins. They will travel miles on foot, fend off predators and be a shield against the cold to protect their young. Directed by Alastair Fothergill (Chimpanzee, Earth) and Jeff Wilson (Our Planet-TV, Great Bear Statkeout-TV), this movie was beautifully filmed. The scenes were fascinating to watch as the film studio spent something like 3 years to capture their footage of the animals. The script with Ed Helms (The Hangover franchise, Love the Coopers) as the narrator was a little too cutesy in my opinion. The focus of the story was on Steve, a young penguin coming of age. I enjoyed watching this movie but compared to the other animal documentaries I have seen from this studio, this one was not as moving and fun for me. The issue had to do with the penguins; as a whole, penguins do not have a personality like monkeys or bears. There were few antics and some of them were being generated by the way Ed narrated the script. Despite this I still enjoyed the film. After seeing what these penguins go through in life, I have to say my life is pretty good compared to these stoic animals.
It happened during my first school field trip where we traveled to our city’s zoo. We were in the lion house and I remembered how the pungent smell hung in the still air. I felt I was inhaling musky cotton balls. The big cats were one of my favorite animals so it was worth the odor to be up close to them. While standing in front of one cage with a pacing male lion, a park attendant who was stationed by one of the main entrances announced to all the visitors they would have to remain in the lion house. The reason was one of the animals had escaped from their enclosure outside. It turned out it was one of the zoo’s star attractions, a large silverback gorilla. My classmates and I were nervously excited with all the commotion this caused throughout the crowd around us. Until the gorilla was captured we spent enough time in the lion house to see the animals being fed by park assistants. I recall how frightening it looked to me to see how the lions would attack their fleshy meal. Back then it made sense to me that the animals were in cages for our protection. Little did I know that the time would come where they were there for their protection. From directors Alastair Fothergill (Chimpanzee, Earth) and Keith Scholey (African Cats) this documentary followed one family of bears in Alaska for one year, from coming out of hibernation to preparing for its return. If for nothing else I have to tip my hat to the movie studio for providing exquisite footage of the bears’ habitat. I have visited Alaska and it was breathtaking to see. The camera work not only provided a true sense of the state, but the close-up work in filming the animals was wonderful. Personally I would have liked more facts about the life of the bears but that was just my own tastes. The studio wanted to make a film that was entertaining so I understood why they had John C. Reilly (We Need to Talk to Kevin, Carnage) as the narrator. Children will probably enjoy the humorous spin he put on the animals’ actions; I just happened to find it odd attaching human emotions to animals. Either way this film was an enjoyable experience. I will say my opinion about zoos has changed as an adult now; there are still ones out there that are simply prisons. Once you view this film you just might agree with me.
2 3/4 stars