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Blu-ray Review Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Sep 2, 2015.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director

    Apr 24, 2006
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    Matt Hough
    XenForo Template Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom Blu-ray Review

    Bringing their original True-Life Adventures nature series into the 21st century, Disneynature’s eighth feature film Monkey Kingdom is surely one of its most delightful and engrossing. Following a macaque monkey through a year-long perilous journey to keep herself and her young one safe from the dangers of the jungle and from her fellow simians, Monkey Kingdom is filled with the same awe-inspiring photography and one-of-a-kind shots capturing unique and unforgettable moments in the lives of nature’s vital creatures that have distinguished previous entries in this entertaining and enlightening series.

    Cover Art

    Studio: Disney

    Distributed By: N/A

    Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

    Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD

    Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

    Rating: G

    Run Time: 1 Hr. 21 Min.

    Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy

    keep case in a slipcover

    Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

    Region: ABC

    Release Date: 09/15/2015

    MSRP: $39.99

    The Production Rating: 4/5

    One knows instantly that the film is going to have a sense of humor to match the unpredictable nature of its subjects when the classic pop tune “We’re the Monkees” introduces us to the hierarchy of the macaque species of monkeys found in Sri Lanka. Narrator Tina Fey zeroes in on one unusually freckled female named Maya who becomes the heroine of the piece. Not one of the favored females in the realm of the macaques headed by alpha male Raja, Maya must struggle for every bite of food and seek shelter wherever she can since the more favored members of the tribe are allowed sanctuary in a massive fig tree or in Castle Rock. Maya gives birth to Kip after being impregnated not by alpha Raja but by a wandering male Kumar who is denied entry into the tribe, thus leaving her alone to raise her child. With all manner of dangers surrounding her in the jungle including sloth bears, leopards, and a fierce monitor lizard, Maya must be not only vigilant but also enterprising if she’s to keep her young one and her safe and well fed.


    As has been the case with previous Disneynature films, the narrative (written by director Mark Linfield) constructed for the nature footage captured by ace directors Mark Linfield and Alastair Fothergill with their talented cameramen Martyn Colbeck and Gavin Thurston may need to trot out some dramatic license from time to time to make available footage match the story, and some subplots don’t end up amounting to much (the leopard footage, as we learn in the bonus material, was extremely rare to capture but impossible to get enough to weave into a compelling minor plot), but that doesn’t negate the very real adventures Maya and her tribe undergo during this hazardous year in their lives, everything from Maya being beaten and her child kidnapped to the tribe being ousted from their home by an invading tribe of rival macaques to their later encounters with village humans in civilization while they regroup to attempt to win back their home. It has all been captured beautifully in the detailed cinematography that really immerses the viewer in the jungle floor and treetop lifestyles of these creatures (you won’t forget the flying termite sequence or the overhead views down some breathtaking waterfalls). And because the film focuses on creatures who have readily identifiable facial markings and oftentimes very human-like behavior, giving the major characters names in the story construction just makes sense because we can easily pick them out of a group of creatures.


    Tina Fey makes for a most droll narrator, matched by sporadic use of pop tunes to emphasize certain character or narrative points: “What a Man” wails on the soundtrack when we first get a glimpse of Kumar (Fey’s description: “he’s one hunky monkey”); “I’ve Been Here Too Long” plays as the monkeys get into no end of mischief during their sojourn into civilization stealing every bit of food that isn’t locked away and making a general mess in doing so; “It’s Our World” brings the film to a fitting close to show us final glimpses of this paradise in all its natural splendor. It’s the funniest and most well paced of the eight Disneynature adventures and one not to be missed.

    Video Rating: 5/5  3D Rating: NA

    The film is framed in its theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio and is presented in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Sharpness is dazzling throughout, so much so that the facial features of the monkeys shown in such detail (Maya’s freckles, evil Rex’s shredded lips, the triplet Sisters’ beet-red muzzles) make them remarkably real and present. Color is rich and well managed with the jungle greens never glowing or seeming fluorescent. Contrast has been consistently maintained serving up such an impressive visual image. The movie has been divided into 14 chapters.

    Audio Rating: 4.5/5

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix has lots of presence. Tina Fey’s narration has been expertly recorded and has been placed in the center channel. Atmospheric effects like the monsoon storms and jungle animal sounds have been given a healthy distribution around the soundstage. The pop tunes and Harry Gregson-Williams’s background score get the surround treatment they deserve, all making for a most effective aural presentation.

    Special Features Rating: 3.5/5

    Tales from the Kingdom (12:11, HD): the three-year journey to bring the film to the screen is described with emphasis on three problematic sequences: keeping the focus on Maya after her beating and the kidnapping of her baby, the stealthy leopard who proved predictably difficult to capture on video, and the curious sloth bears who found the photography equipment too interesting to leave alone.


    On the Set of Monkey Kingdom with Jane Goodall and Wolfgang Dittus (5:49, HD): directors of photography Martyn Colbeck and Gavin Thurston along with the two scientists who serve as ambassadors for Disneynature express their impressions on the monkeys of Sri Lanka and the necessity of preserving their habitat from oncoming civilization.


    The Conservation Story (7:54, HD): conservation specialist Dr. M. Sanjayan discusses efforts made in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Indonesia to preserve the wilds so that civilizations can share the land with the native nature dwellers.


    “It’s Our World” Music Video (3:15, HD): performed by Jacquie Lee.


    A Special Thank You from Disneynature (2:14, HD): a report on the contributions Disney has made for conservation efforts worldwide through each of its eight Disneynature features.


    Promo Trailers (HD): Born in China, Aladdin.


    DVD/Digital Copy: disc and code sheet enclosed in the package.

    Overall Rating: 4/5

    Another gem in the memorably entertaining Disneynature series of nature adventures, Monkey Kingdom will likely rank at or near the top of the heap with viewers who will find the delightfully rascally and human-like macaques great companions for an engrossing viewing experience. Recommended!

    Reviewed By: Matt Hough

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