By Ranny Levy, Founder/President of KidsFirst.org.
Narrated by John Krasinski, Disneynature’s new True Life Adventure film Born In China takes an epic journey into the wilds of China where few people have ever ventured. Following the stories of three animal families, the film transports audiences to some of the most extreme environments on Earth to witness some of the most intimate moments ever captured in a nature film.
A doting panda bear mother guides her growing baby as she begins to explore and seek independence. A two-year-old golden snub-nosed monkey who feels displaced by his new baby sister joins up with a group of free-spirited outcasts. And a mother snow leopard-an elusive animal rarely caught on camera-faces the very real drama of raising her two cubs in one of the harshest and most unforgiving environments on the planet. Featuring stunning, never-before-seen imagery, the film navigates China’s vast terrain-from the frigid mountains.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “I love the visual splendor of this film and I am still in awe from some of the shots of the vast Chinese landscape.” Morgan B. adds, “Adorable, cuddly, fierce, cunning and hilarious animals all have one thing in common – they all put a tingle in my heart!” See their full reviews below.
Born in China
By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11
Born in China is a beautifully shot documentary with fun narration, excellent cinematography, and an inspiring story. I love the visual splendor of this film and I am still in awe from some of the shots of the vast Chinese landscape.
Narrated by John Krasinski (NBC’s The Office, Amazon’s Jack Ryan), Born in China chronicles the lives of three animals: Ya Ya, a giant panda who lives surrounded by bamboo and peace with her growing cub, the mischievous monkey Tao Tao who yearns for attention after the birth of his baby sister and later joins a group of outcasts, and the snow leopard Dawa struggling to protect her cubs from predators in harsh conditions. The film also follows the journey of a herd of chiru as they migrate to give birth to their young.
Born in China is one of the rare films that perfectly captures the magic and excitement of nature on screen. Not only does it have footage of some of the cutest animals on earth, but you really get to know some of the animals and their personalities. Also, it has great shots of the stunning landscape of China that you’re not going to find in any other movie.
John Krasinski is very versatile in his role as narrator. He knows his young audience well and adds some fun dialogue to make it more appealing to them. His narration also goes very well with what is going on onscreen and is key in helping you understand the animals. One flaw is that the subplot with the chiru feels unneeded. Unlike other storylines, there is no main character to gravitate toward or follow. It feels like extra baggage that overcrowds the movie.
One of the best parts is that it demonstrates the animals showcasing basic values we see in society today. The lesson I took away is that the importance of family outweighs everything else, no matter what situation you’re in. Tao Tao goes to roam with The Lost Boys because he can’t find attention at home but later he learns that those who care for you will be there when you need them.
I recommend this film for ages 4 to 18. It’s pretty much suited for all ages, but some animal violence makes it a unsuitable for very young children. It also will be very much enjoyed by adults. I give Born in China 3.5 out of 5 stars. It arrives in theaters just in time for Earth Day, April 22, 2017. Don’t forget to stay for the credits for a series of bloopers and outtakes.
Born In China
By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12
Adorable, cuddly, fierce, cunning and hilarious animals all have one thing in common – they all put a tingle in my heart! Director Lu Chuan put so much care into making this superb film. It is apparent how much he loves what he is doing and that adds to the charm of this film. I love how the movie made me feel when I watched it.
The red-winged crane carries us on a journey to different parts of China. Inspired by nature and adorable fun creatures that live there, we learn the Snow Leopard’s story told through Dwoa. Dwoa is a courageous and cunning Snow Leopard with two adorable baby cubs she is trying to protect. Finding food on the highest plateau on earth proves to be difficult. As much as I wanted to cuddle and pet her, I do not think she is the hugging type.
The adorable Giant Pandas’ story is told through Mei Mei and her mother Ya Ya, the stars of the show when it comes to humor. Mei Mei wants her independence and has big dreams and even bigger hopes of learning to climb trees. Her mom Ya Ya wants to do everything she can to keep her safe and keep her close forever. This is a thing that every child struggles with, including me. Fun fact: Giant Pandas eat more than 40 pounds of bamboo a day. That’s a lot of bamboos so, note to self if you want a pet Panda you need to have a lot of money to buy bamboo plants.
The golden snub-nosed monkeys’ story is told by my favorite character, Tao Tao who is only two years old. He is mischievous and feels like an outcast so, like Peter Pan, he joins a group of lost boys. Winter along the Yangtze River is harsh and we watch him shiver, covered with snow and ice. It made me want to grab a warm blanket to cover him.
There are many more animals that are incorporated in this 80-minute documentary that follows them for a year of their life, from spring to spring. I especially enjoyed the chiru which is a type of antelope. The red pandas are excellent tree climbers and perfect role models for all baby pandas who try to climb trees after watching them. John Krasinski (The Office) narrates this adorable documentary. His voice style and humor perfectly fit the film.
The circle of life is once again Disney’s of this nature documentary. I do not like movies that make me cry but Disney did it once again. I love this movie, especially the eye candy scenes of Mother Nature and her animals. The cinematography is stupendous as it captures close-ups of animals who are rarely seen in their natural habitats. You see every single hair and get to watch them forage for food, play, give birth and protect each other. The aerial views are stupendous and unique. I wondered what it would be like to be one of these animals. Is it fascinating seeing the things that they have to face every day of their lives?
I recommend this for ages 5 to 18. It is marvelous, but there are some moments that made me cry. Animals need to eat and, when watching them hunt to eat, there are scenes that might freak out some kids. It is very informational, humorous and heartwarming. It reminded me that there is a big wide world out there ready to be explored. I give this film 5 out of 5 Mother Nature stars. This film opens nationwide in theaters on April 21, 2017, just in time to celebrate Earth Day. Brought to you by Disneynature, when part of the box office proceeds will be donated to the World Wildlife Foundation to help giant pandas, snow leopards, and many more animals.