Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
August 31, 2015 by Dennis Amith
“Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom” is a enjoyable and wonderful film about the toque macaque primates in Sri Lanka. Featuring a well-written, well-edited and gorgeous nature documentary, Disneynature fans will no doubt enjoy “Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom”.
TITLE: Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom
FILM RELEASE: 2015
DURATION: 81 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
RATED: G (General Audiences)
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Directed by Mark Linfield, Alastair Fothergill
Producer: Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield
Music by Harry Gregson-Williams
Cinematography by Gavin Thurton
Edited by Andy Netley
Tina Fey (Narrator)
From Disneynature, the studio that brought you Chimpanzee and Bears, comes MONKEY KINGDOM, a spectacular tale set among ancient ruins in the storied jungles of South Asia. Maya, a clever and resourceful monkey, finds her world forever changed when she welcomes her son Kip into her colorful extended family. As Maya strives to keep Kip safe through unexpected and sometimes perilous adventures, amazing footage captures all the magic and surprises of their magnificent world. Maya and her family will make you laugh and warm your heart as she realizes her dreams for her son’s future.
Since 2008, Disneynature, an independent film label of the Walt Disney Studios based in France has been releasing nature documentary films.
With the release of “Earth” in 2007, which would make over $108 million worldwide, for their eighth film titled “Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom”, the focus would be on the toque macaque in the ancient ruins deep inside the jungles of Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka.
The film is narrated by actress Tina Fey (“Saturday Night Live”, “30 Rock”, “Mean Girls”) and the film was released internationally on April 23rd to coincide with Earth Day and box office receipts were donated to Conservation International.
And now, “Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom” will be released on Blu-ray and HD in Sept. 2015.
The story introduces us to the hierarchy of a group of the toque macaque, primates who have those who are born into a higher level receiving attention and getting what they want (which often is the best food and living up high on the fig trees), while those in the lower levels not getting the same treatment.
The film focuses on Maya, a toque macaque who lives in the lower level and her story of how she is able to advanced in the social strata of the group. Maya falls for an outside toque macaque wanting to gain entrance to the tribe, Kumar wants to win Maya’s affections. But because Raja is the alpha male of the tribe of monkeys, she must contend with him around, but also the high status females known as The Sisterhood.
From Maya giving birth to a baby named Kip, which she has to raise alone and brave the dangers of the jungle but also how the tribe of monkeys must prepare for a coup by another tribe of neighboring monkeys and forced to find a new home.
“Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom” is presented in 1080p High Definition and presented in 1:85:1 aspect ratio. Shot in Sri Lanka primarily outdoors with Sony F65 cameras, the picture quality is fantastic as detail is wonderful, colors are vibrant and definitely a gorgeous Disneynature film on Blu-ray.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 Descriptive Audio. Tina Fey’s narration is crystal clear, as well as the music by British composer Harry Gregson-Williams. There is also good use of the surround channels for ambiance of the natural environments.
Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.
“Disney Nature: Monkey Kingdom” comes with the following special features:
- tales from the kingdom – (12:12) Behind-the-scenes of the making of “Monkey Kingdom”.
- On the set of “Monkey Kingdom” with Jane Goodall and Wolfgang Dittus – (5:50) Featuring interviews with the crew of “Monkey Kingdom” and interviews with Jane Goodall (Founder, The Jane Goodall Institute, Disneynature Ambassador) and Wolfgang Dittus (Primatologist) who visited Sri Lanka.
- Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom: The Conservation Story – (7:54) Dr. M. Sanjayan (EVP Conservation International – Disneynature Ambassador) revisits Sri Lanka and where “Monkey Kingdom” was filmed and saving the planet by planting trees.
- “It’s Our World” music video – (3:16) “It’s Our World” performed by Jacquie Lee
- A special thank you from disneynature – (2:14) A short featurette about the “Disneynature” releases.
“Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the film. Also, a DisneyMovieRewards code.
I have to commend Walt Disney Studios and also Crazy Ape Productions and Silverback Films for “Monkey Kingdom”.
Disneynature films for the most part, are well-produced, educational and a lot of fun, thanks to the well-crafted storyline typically narrated by a celebrity and in this case, for “Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom”, the film receives wonderful narration from actress Tina Fey.
And because of the environment of shooting in the jungle, with a lot of dangerous animals and amphibians nearby, the crew went all-out to capture hours upon hours of footage of Maya and the tribe of toque macaque, but also other animals within their dwellings and what they were able to capture is amazing.
One of the surprising things about watching this film is seeing that the toque macques live in a highly structured area where social status is important.
Dominant hierarchies, such as the three sisters (The Sisterhood) treat their children as if they are the best and they watch over their tree of great fruit, which is only for them. In fact, because of their hierarchy, they are entitled to what they want in the jungle.
And alongside of them is the alpha male of the jungle, Raja, who also is very protective of the tribe and he has his own set of monkeys that will go to war or fight for him, which was interesting to see.
But of course, the film is about Maya, who lives in the bottom of the hierarchy and falls for Kumar, another toque macaque from another neighboring area who wants to be part of the group, but most of all find his mate…and that is Maya.
As the film tries to showcase the hierarchy, the more surprising developments in the film happens when she gives birth and seeing the difference between the haves and have-nots within the toque macaque tribe.
But also seeing the danger that these tribes face from neighboring macaque and how dangerous they are to one another, and how some of them don’t make it alive.
While the film is fine for families, the film does have a scene of two monkey’s dead. Granted, you don’t see the body closeup, but the dead body is meant to show audiences of the dangers that happen in the jungle.
We also learn about how the macaque are not far from human population and how these forests are quite close to neighborhoods and markets.
While the film doesn’t get into the negatives of human habitation and the thread and endangerment of the toque macaque, the film tries to focus more on the positive and if anything, on Maya and her being a mother and trying to keep her son well-fed and protected, but also her climb on the social ladder in the toque macaque hierarchy.
The film looks absolutely detailed and vibrant on Blu-ray and the narration by Tina Fey and the musical score are crystal clear. As for special features, you get several of them, especially fascinating featurettes on the making of the film, but also seeing two professionals, Jane Goodall and Wolfgang Dittus traveling to Sri Lanka and visiting the toque macaque. But also a positive featurette such as the Conservation Story.
Overall, “Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom” is a enjoyable and wonderful film about the toque macaque primates in Sri Lanka. Featuring a well-written, well-edited and gorgeous nature documentary, Disneynature fans will no doubt enjoy “Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom”.
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