Steven Escareno is an amateur film critic who writes about movies in his spare time.
7 / 10
- Cinematography work was excellent, as it captures the beauty of China and its animal inhabitants perfectly.
- Soundtrack matches the theme of the film quite well.
- John Krasinski's narration work wasn't too bad. He may lack the humor that John C. Reilly brought to "Bears," but he does a good job.
- Pacing felt a bit rushed.
- Since the film focuses on various animal families within a short run ime, you never have time to develop a deep connection to them as you would in some of Disneynature's other documentaries.
"Born in China" may not be Disneynature's best documentary, but it's enjoyable nonetheless. The documentary follows several animal families that are indigenous to China and shows how they survive throughout the year, in harsh weather conditions and circumstances. The hardships range from avoiding attacks from predators, keeping warm during the winter, learning to climb a tree, migrating long distances, to having trouble finding food for their young. Unlike most of Disneynature's recent documentaries, not all of these stories end on a happy note, but it's still entertaining to watch.
Each animal family they follow shows you how beautiful these majestic creatures can be in their natural environment. Unfortunately, since the documentary focuses on so many animals, you never get the same connection to them as you'd feel towards another Disneynature films like "Bears," where the focus is primarily on one bear family throughout the entire film. Since "Born in China" doesn't focus on just one animal family, and is told in such a short running time, the majority of it feels a tad rushed.
But for what the film gave us, I found it genuinely enjoyable. Sure, it would've been nice to see a series of documentaries focusing on each of these families individually, but for what it was, I thought it was an entertaining film.
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The cinematography was great, and it certainly captures the beauty of these animals surviving in their natural habitats; especially with how it utilized the closeups and wide-angled shot. However, I wouldn't put it on the same level as something like "March of the Penguins", or "Winged Migration", in terms of its cinematography. Both those films featured vastly superior cinematography work. However, the camera work here succeeded in telling the narrative the film tries to convey.
John Krasinski does a fairly decent job narrating each of these stories for us. Not great, but not terrible either. Sure, he lacks the subtle stoic wisdom of a Morgan Freeman, or the sly quick wit of John C. Reilly, but he's not too bad. You never find yourself getting bored listening to him speak about these animals, but he plays the narrator role straight up. Unlike some of his previous performances in movies, you can tell all his dialogue was being read off a script, which is fairly common in most nature documentaries.
However, at least with John C. Reilly, he was able to add subtle bits of humor that made you feel more invested into the story. Here, you don't get that same type of feeling from listening to John speak about these animals. Sure, he does a fine job for what he was asked to do, but it would've been nice to hear him ad lib a bit more into the narrative.
The soundtrack was good, as it certainly fits the tone of "Born in China" perfectly. Apart from a few animals dying from natural causes, or being eaten by predators, "Born in China" seems like an OK documentary to take the kids to.
Although for me personally, I don't think "Born in China" is Disneynature's best, but it's certainly worth a look. Sure, you could argue that this might be Disneynature's weakest nature documentary thus far, and you wouldn't be wrong in saying that.
However, if you're a huge nature lover who enjoys these types of documentaries, or you have kids who love animals, then "Born in China" is certainly worth checking out in theaters. While it may feel a bit rushed, the film itself captures the wildlife of China quite beautifully,
Ben on December 07, 2017:
Mmm ill check this one out. thanks.
Ced Yong from Asia on May 03, 2017:
I didn't know Disney had such documentaries. (I thot it's all Elsa). Have to check this out.