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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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.
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
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.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.