LAND OF THE BEARS | MOVIE REVIEW

LAND OF THE BEARS is a stunning documentary about a big bunch of bears in Russia, it is all shot in 3D, it is mostly all shot in the wild and it gives some of the most stunning footage ever seen of bears in their natural habitat. It was released at Dendy Cinemas and Cinema Nova on September 25th (it could be at more cinemas – check your local – these were the only two I could find), is rated G and runs for 87mins – it should also be noted – it is in 3D ONLY (I do have to apologise – this was set to auto post before release but I made an error in the dates and just found it – again sorry about that). I had the pleasure, with big thanks to Icon Film Distribution Australia, to take my parental units to this one, they loved it and we all had a great night. If you love your documentaries and stunning footage you are going to love this.

 

LAND OF THE BEARS MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
LAND OF THE BEARS | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | AUSTRALIAN MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY JASON KING

Kamchatka, a peninsula in the far east of Russia is an entire world away from our own, it is a place of harsh beauty and stark reality. It appears untouched by the world we live in and could be the setting of Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. The seasons are polar opposites and the land is purely wild. It is also host to its major society, 20000 brown bears inhabit this wild world. It is no easy world, it is a struggle for survival, firstly you must survive a long hibernation of the winter, and the only way to do this is to stuff yourself with salmon during the warmer months when you are not sleeping. You need about fifty salmon a day to keep your weight up and to blubberise yourself for the winter basically. So you and 19999 other bears have to chase the salmon through summer and you all have to eat fifty salmon a day and if you are a mother you have to catch for your kids as well. In my opinion – stuff that – just die – sounds too hard. And I do feel for the ten million salmon that get eaten every year. This alone is a delicate balance of nature and planet. If we, as humans, continue to fuck up this planet, we will damage the salmon, if the salmon don’t make it up the Kamchatka peninsula amongst the snow and volcanoes we will see entire species just die out in one season. This is inconceivable but also highly possible the way we are going.

 

LAND OF THE BEARS MOVIE IMAGE
LAND OF THE BEARS | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | BEARS SWIMMING TO FOOD

 

We follow a mother waking up and looking after her young baby bears, we follow a “teenager” juvenile bear on his first year by himself who runs into his sister and we follow an older bear in his more experienced and wise years. In France the film is narrated by Marion Cotillard and I would have preferred this with subtitles. We got Daniel Gasman and while he was sufficient and did the job, the film would have suited the eloquent tones of Cotillard and the otherworldliness of the environment I would have preferred in a foreign language.

The film offers little insight into the bears. It lacked the “Attenborough” insight and explanation and offered mild narration of what you were seeing. It did provide astounding facts but I found them not as much as I would have preferred.

One thing that annoyed me was finding the opening scenes with the baby bears and the mum waking at the early end to winter was all staged and pre-built. The film offers so many visual wonders that leave you with your mouth agape as to how it was filmed, when you find out that this and possibly some other scenes were staged it lost its brilliant sheen for me.

 

LAND OF THE BEARS MOVIE IMAGE
LAND OF THE BEARS | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | BEAR FAMILY WALKING TO FOOD

 

The film utilises some of the best 3D filming techniques I have seen and you will literally be astounded how they get most of the footage, just how exactly they get images of bears stomping on salmon underwater that close is mind boggling. Of course this is where James Cameron comes in – they utilised his CPG technology and supported the entire shoot – which lasted for an entire year encompassing eight different journeys into the rugged area.

The movie is visually heavy, it is definitely the best visual experience of bears, ever, period. But the film lacks elsewhere, eventually it felt like we were just watching bears and the narration was adding nothing to advance these brilliant visuals. It was then I felt the film would have suited a 1hr documentary from National Geographic or similar more than the near 90min feature documentary.

Due to my errors this review has come out after the film released in the cinema. It is worth seeing for the visuals, if you can see it on 3D Blu Ray on a big TV then do it, just do not expect a huge amount of educational support from the narration.

 

3 and a Half Pops