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“Born to Be Wild 3D”, narrated by Morgan Freeman, manages to toe the fine line between high-tech and old school. The filmmaking is state-of-the-art, featuring IMAX 3D, the biggest, most immersive movie format in the world. Add to this, storytelling that emulates sitting in front of The Wonderful World of Disney in the 1970s and you’ve got what will no doubt be a hit film for the IMAX format.
This film is easy to digest. If ever there was a movie “good for the kids”, this is it! Forty minutes long and full of cute stuff like this:
It tells the intercutting story of two women doing rescue work for orphaned orangutans and elephants in Borneo and Kenya. Running an Orangutan Care Center in the jungles of Asia, Dr. Birute Mary Galidikas nurses abandoned or injured orangutans into early adulthood and, eventually, into the wild. The cameras follow the good doctor as they bathe and feed the animals, and there’s even a surrogate-mom-type procedure in which female humans carry the babies around all the time, which I think would confuse a young monkey, but instead it works quite well, inundating the baby with quality of life that an orphan would otherwise not have. And, of course, there’s tons of cute stuff like this:
I was lucky enough to attend a press event where the filmmakers and subjects of the film spoke. Dr. Galidikas discusses here her relationship and respect with the orangutans. She sounds a little like Underdog Lady from The Howard Stern Show…if Underdog Lady were a genius:
Meanwhile, in Kenya, Dame Daphne M. Sheldrick is nursing orphaned elephants to good health and releasing them into the wild as well. She has amassed quite a staff to assist with the wrangling, movement and care of the pachyderms (Pachydermata?). One of the most interesting parts of the film is when an elephant is returned to the jungle, all the other former orphans come out to greet it. No one tweets or Facebooks them. They just know, and they show up to welcome the new family member into the wild. Yes, it’s as corny and magical as that last sentence.
Opening in the vicinity of the American circus-themed drama, “Water for Elephants”, Dr. Sheldrick had some comments about “training” elephants for our amusements. The doctor is no joke:
The obvious comparison for this movie is Disney. Especially since Disney has tried to recapture the classic nature films of days gone by with their recent spate of Earth Day releases that spawned a whole label, “Disneynature’s Earth”, “Disneynature’s Oceans” and “Disneynature’s African Cats”. Warner Brothers’ “Born to Be Wild 3D” matches the photography of those elegant films, but adds the human element of the two doctors. Then there are the “this little guy’s getting into a bit of trouble” moments, which are always a hit. The kids in the theater I was in loved all the use of the 3D, orangutans swinging through the trees elicited the best reactions. And unlike full-length features, the 3D here isn’t distracting, it’s useful (and not employed by Disneynature), and, as I mentioned before, it knows when it’s welcome might wear out, so the film is wisely clipped at 40 minutes.
Some of the shots, as in most nature films, create impressive, you-are-there moments. Director David Lickley discusses the 3D shoot:
Can this review even evaluate the narration by Morgan Freeman? He’s simply one of the best out there doing it. It’s no coincidence that the film he won an Oscar for (“Million Dollar Baby”) features a good amount of narration. He’s a trusting voice, worthy of taking us deep into the jungle. You know you’ll make it out. Here, he discusses why he finds this project valuable:
As the onslaught of summer movies descends upon us, “Born to Be Wild 3D” is a great movie for your kids and decent entertainment for the adults. When IMAX fills up with “Thor”, “Pirates 4” and more, “Born to Be Wild 3D” will stick around for early screenings at theaters and extended runs at city science centers. Look, it can’t hurt to get a young mind involved in conservation, harmony with nature and other liberal environmental issues. Check it out.
Oh, and just ‘cause it’s awesome to hear him talk, here’s another Morgan Freeman clip. He was asked if he’s been to the national parks in Africa that the film visits. He hasn’t, but he did visit Okavango Delta in Botswana, and tells this story:
“Born to Be Wild 3D” is playing at the California Science Center in L.A., Navy Pier IMAX in Chicago (see it before the Transformers destroy it), and other major science centers and IMAX theaters across the country.
Directed by: David Lickley
Release Date: April 8, 2010
Run Time: 40 minutes
Distributor: IMAX Filmed Entertainment; Warner Bros. Pictures