Disneynature: Expedition China

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
Disneynature: Expedition China Movie Poster Image
Gentle docu about how crews capture footage of rare animals.
  • G
  • 2017
  • 79 minutes

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids may learn a bit about Chinese animals and nature photography. 

Positive Messages

Patience, planning, hard work, and dedication are sometimes rewarded.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Experts on filming rare species in the wild use all their knowledge and patience to capture images of animals and their babies in their own habitats.

Violence & Scariness

A hawk threatens to attack a young monkey but is thwarted. Wolves follow antelope as they migrate but are outrun. Monkeys fight each other for access to food.

Sexy Stuff

Male antelopes herd females in preparation for mating but no actual mating is seen. A baby antelope is born on camera.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Disneynature: Expedition China is about the making of Disney's Born in China documentary in which expert film crews sought to find babies of rare species in their natural habitats located in remote areas of China. Adorable baby antelope, cranes, monkeys, and pandas are captured on camera by dedicated, patient crews. This behind-the-scenes look at the arduous work and preparation required to make these films offer lots of information about the animals living their lives, while also demonstrating how difficult it was to get those images. Friction and peril are mild. A hawk unsuccessfully tries to grab a monkey, and monkey groups fight over access to food.

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What's the story?

DISNEYNATURE: EXPEDITION CHINA concentrates on the efforts of the human planners, animal experts, and nature photographers who took the long, arduous journeys that produced beautiful and never-before-seen images of rare species of baby animals. Plenty of their spectacular animal footage is seen, but the efforts and hardships of the crews as they search for rare animals and photograph them living their lives is the emphasis of this film. We see humans dressed in panda outfits -- as mandated by Chinese conservation rules -- patiently waiting hours for panda sightings. Curious bears of the high Chinese plateau maul devices built by cameramen to hide cameras in plain sight from the skittish antelope they seek to record. Fuzzy newborn crane chicks walk and swim minutes after birth.  A crew filming rare snub-nosed monkeys laugh as friendly and curious monkeys dance on their heads and play with flaps on the camera lenses. One monkey grooms the tresses of an animal expert as she sits still, trying not to scare the monkey away. A panda mom and cub play together. The baby rolls down a steep hill, terrain shown earlier as a panda photographer struggles to make his way up before the shoot.  Mating of antelopes is discussed but not displayed, and the birth of an antelope is shown. Children who love animals will be fascinated.  
 

Is it any good?

This film seems to be a compilation of unused footage from Disney's entertaining Born in China nature documentary, and bravo for putting the images to good use. Interviews with the animal experts and photographers who made difficult treks to capture rare footage, as well as Maggie Q's clear narration, serve to explain the ins and outs of nature photography in extreme conditions. Disneynature: Expedition China's candid look at the harsh conditions and other challenges such work poses may help encourage kids to learn more about endangered species and, perhaps, to pursue the important work shown here.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how remarkable it is that some baby animals can walk, swim, and feed themselves within minutes of being born. Do you know at what age human babies first walk?

  • Are animals in the wild good parents? What are some examples of great parenting shown in Disneynature: Expedition China?

  • China is reported to spend a great deal of energy and money on providing the rare species featured in the film with designated lands in order to protect them and help their populations grow. What are some of the methods described in the film?

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