Amazon Adventure 3D

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Amazon Adventure 3D Movie Poster Image
Inpsiring, educational biopic about a remarkable naturalist.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 45 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 2 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

The historical docudrama follows Henry Bates, a relatively unknown (but very significant) 19th-century naturalist. Kids will learn about his childhood, his early interest in bugs and the natural world, his belief in Darwin's ideas, and his collaboration with fellow naturalist Alfred Wallace. Viewers will also learn a great deal about mimicry/disguise as an important example of biological evolution and how the animal world uses it to survive.

Positive Messages

No matter how humble your beginnings, you can and should persevere and pursue your dreams. Bates' curiosity about the natural world leads to a life-long passion and expertise. His story also reveals how difficult it was for scientists and naturalists to do and continue their work -- and how dangerous it could be. His friendship with Tando explores how important guides were to explorers, naturalists, and all who ventured outside their homelands in search of answers.  

Positive Role Models & Representations

Bates and Wallace are dedicated, courageous naturalists. They give up the comforts of home to do their research in the Amazon. Bates follows his dreams, which extend beyond his family's humble business at a time when academic research wasn't a common option for the middle class. Bates also overcomes unthinkable odds to continue his journey and research. Tando is loyal to Bates, even when Bates doesn't have the money to pay him. Tando also helps Bates when he falls ill.

Violence & Scariness

Bates gets sick in the Amazon and contracts various diseases, including yellow fever and malaria, which leave him permanently sickly. Bates and Tando survive a natural catastrophe that nearly sinks their ship and ruins most of their specimens/work.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Amazon Adventure 3D is a large-format docudrama that's partly an exploration of the Amazon's biodiversity and partly a biopic about 19th-century English naturalist Henry Walter Bates. Bates may not be nearly as famous as Charles Darwin, but his work was no less important -- and his voyage to the Amazon was much longer and more specialized than Darwin's five-year journey around the world. Unlike many other educational nature films, this isn't a documentary but rather a dramatic biopic set against the Amazon. Characters face challenges (illness, natural catastrophe) but don't let any obstacle get in the way of their curiosity and pursuit of their dreams. Older elementary schoolers and middle-school-aged viewers are particularly well-suited to understand this drama, which humanizes an important scientist who's not quite a household name.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11-year-old Written byBinge W. July 30, 2018

Rated TV-Y7

Great educational film was well-made. Had some violence and peril the main character was in peril sometimes in the jungle but nothing too crazy.
Adult Written byJanis W June 23, 2017

Gorgeous history of Amazon discovery

This is as much a biopic of Evolutionary Biologist Dr Henry Bates as a beautiful tour of the Amazon. It's heavily focused on the discoveries of variations... Continue reading

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What's the story?

AMAZON ADVENTURE 3D is a 45-minute biopic about 19th-century naturalist Henry Walter Bates (Calum Finlay), a much-younger and lesser-known contemporary of Charles Darwin. Produced by SK Films in collaboration with organizations focused on science education, the film was shot by two teams: one that focused on exploring the Amazon's biodiversity through nature cinematography, and one that focused on the narrative storytelling about Bates. Born into a family of literate, middle-class stocking makers in Leicester, England, Bates develops an early passion for the natural world -- particularly insects and butterflies. As a young man, he teams up with fellow naturalist Alfred Wallace (Ed Birch) to ask a wealthy London patron to fund their journey to the Amazon in exchange for regular shipments of pecimens. While on their journey, Bates and Wallace decide to split up to explore more. Eventually Wallace moves on to East Asia, but Bates remains in the Amazon and continues to do his research, fixated on the idea of mimcry/disguise in the natural world as proof that species evolve to survive.

Is it any good?

An educational, inspiring tale of naturalist Henry Bates' determination, grit, and awesome exploration of the Amazon, this film is worth catching at a museum or learning institution. At first, it's a bit odd to see a dramatic retelling of a scientist's life rather than a straight documentary featuring a bunch of academics and scientists discussing the importance of Bates' contribution to the study of evolution and natural selection. But by focusing on Bates' life, Amazon Adventure 3D humanizes him and shows just how vital scientific research was -- and continues to be -- for the sake of progress, knowledge, and understanding the world around us.

Finlay plays Bates as a man of integrity, discipline, and kindness. He genuinely loves the Amazon and is, at least in the film, close to his guide -- an indigenous Brazilian man named Tando (Bege Muniz), who's responsible for keeping Bates alive. The natural photography was all shot on location in the Amazon, and the result is visually stunning -- viewers will see animals that can disguise themselves as leaves, bark, and rocks, as well as those that can imitate predators (when they're actually prey). It's just as fascinating in the 21st century as it was in the 19th.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the role models in Amazon Adventure 3D. What makes them role models? How accurately do you think they're portrayed here?

  • What do Bates' triumphs and tragedies in the Amazon reveal about the nature of scientific research? How does Bates use perseverance and curiosity in his work? Why are those important character strengths?

  • What did you learn about the Amazon, mimicry, and the importance of Bates' work? Does the movie make you want to visit the Amazon? Or learn more about Bates?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love nature

Character Strengths

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