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Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield
Narrated By:
Tim Allen
Writing Credits:
Mark Steven Johnson

For Oscar, every day is an adventure.

From Disneynature, the studio that brought you Earth, Oceans and African Cats, comes Chimpanzee - a remarkable story of individual triumph and family bonds. Journey deep into the African rainforest and meet Oscar, an adorable young chimp with an entertaining approach to life. The world is a playground for little Oscar and his fellow young chimps who love creating mayhem. Full of curiosity, a zest for discovery, joy, and a love for mimicking others, they are some of the most extraordinary personalities in the animal kingdom. Stunning hi-definition images bring you up close and personal as Oscar and his family navigate the complex territory of the forest. It's an inspiring and life-changing adventure that overflows with courage and charm. And it will capture your heart.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$10.673 million on 1563 screens.
Domestic Gross
$28.944 million.

Rated G

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Original Theater Mix
English DTS 5.1 Home Theater Mix
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby 2.0 Descriptive Video Service
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 78 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 8/21/2012

• “On Location: The Making of Chimpanzee” Documentary
• “See Chimpanzee, Save Chimpanzees” Featurette
• “Rise” Music Video
• “Behind the Scenes of the Music Video” Featurette
• “Disney’s Conservation Legacy” Promo
• “Disney’s Friends for Change” Promo
• Sneak Peeks
• DVD Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

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Chimpanzee [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 13, 2012)

For the fifth US-released film in the “Disneynature” franchise, we find 2012’s Chimpanzee. Narrated by Tim Allen, the movie introduces us to Oscar, a very young chimp. He lives with his mother Isha in a clan led by elder primate Freddy. We view aspects of Oscar’s early life, both mundane and dramatic.

In the latter category comes the threat from a rival group led by Scar. The two clans battle over territory and eventually come to blows to establish dominance over the nut groves in Freddy’s area. When the dust settles, Isha finds herself wounded and vulnerable to local predators. Those kill her and leave Oscar an orphan who must figure out how to survive without his mother.

Although I love animals, I must admit I never cared much for “nature films”. Maybe I saw too many snoozers in school, but the genre always left me a bit cold. However, a friend of mine adores all forms of primates – even me! – so I decided to watch Chimpanzee and let him have the disc when I finished with it.

Did it change my mind about nature films? Not really. While it enjoys some charms, too much of Chimpanzee falters to make it a real winner.

The main positive comes from the nature photography itself. Visually, the film is a stunner, as it portrays its subjects and settings extremely well. The movie gives us a real ground-level view and immerses us there.

It also tells an interesting tale, but unfortunately, it submerges the story under overwhelming narration. I suspect this exists to make things “kiddie-friendly”, as Allen’s commentary tends to seem simplistic and glib. Although I think these elements intend to help us connect with the participants, the narration has the opposite effect. The remarks feel forced and attempt too much bad humor.

I guess that’s what happens when you hire a comedian to narrate. I would’ve been fine with a wisecrack here or there, but Allen’s attempts at comedy pop up too often and tend to undercut the natural feeling of what we see. They usually take us out of the action and distract from the realism.

That’s unfortunate, as Chimpanzee really does deliver excellent visuals. It gives us a fine look at its subjects, but it can’t leave well enough alone. This remains a watchable documentary, but more restrained narration would’ve made it much stronger.

The Disc Grades: Picture A+/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

Chimpanzee appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. If I’ve seen a more attractive live-action Blu-ray, I can’t think of it, as this was a stunning presentation.

Sharpness seemed remarkable. All shots wide and close delivered terrific detail and showed not the slightest hint of softness. I witnessed no shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes remained absent. Of course, no print flaws materialized either.

In terms of palette, the film went with the expected emphasis on “jungle green”. These hues looked accurate and fit the natural setting well. Blacks seemed deep and dense, while shadows were clear and smooth. The film delivered an absolutely breathtaking presentation that was a joy to watch.

While not quite as impressive, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack also satisfied. As one might expect, the soundscape stayed with environmental material to fit the jungle setting. This meant a lot of general ambience without much in the way of specifics. Some sequences worked better than others – like a storm – but most stayed with the overall sense of place.

Audio quality was fine. Allen’s narration seemed concise and natural, without edginess or other concerns. Music was bright and peppy, while effects appeared accurate and full. Occasional instances of low-end – like the beating of a “tree drum” – demonstrated solid depth and punch. The mix created a reasonably engaging setting for the jungle-based material.

Among the extras, the main component comes from a documentary called On Location: The Making of Chimpanzee. It runs 38 minutes, 54 seconds as it provides notes from cameramen Warrick, Bill and Martyn, camera assistant Ed, field researchers Lydia and Lissa, scientific consultant Christophe, director Mark, and logistics manager Ed. (I don’t know why the disc only credits the participants by their first names, but that’s how it lists them.)

The program covers the difficulties of shooting in the jungle as well as aspects of chimp life and development. The glimpses of what the filmmakers went through to get the footage provide the most compelling moments, as we see a good representation of their struggles. Heck, the perils they encountered make me wish I liked the movie more than I do – I would’ve lasted roughly 83 seconds in the wild. This is an involving, better than average glimpse behind the scenes.

Next comes the three-minute, 13-second See Chimpanzee, Save Chimpanzees. It includes comments from directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, UN Messenger of Peace Dr. Jane Goodall, and cameraman Martyn Colbeck. (Yay – last names!) They give us an overview of the film and let us know that part of the ticket/BD/DVD sales go to help chimps. It’s essentially a long, fairly self-congratulatory ad.

A Music Video for “Rise” by the McClain Sisters. It mixes movie shots with lip-synch performance from the Sisters. Both the video and the song seem forgettable.

For more info, we can go Behind the Scenes of the Music Video. This lasts a mere one minute, 16 seconds as it offers comments from the three Sisters. They offer puffy thoughts about the movie and the video. Yawn.

Two promos follow. We see these for Disney’s Conservation Legacy (1:48) and Disney’s Friends for Change (0:47). Both provide basic advertisements and nothing more.

The disc opens with ads for Disney Conservation and Finding Nemo. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with promos for Austin & Ally, Disney Parks, Cinderella, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3, Planes and Secret of the Wing. No trailer for Chimpanzee arrives here.

We also get a DVD copy of Chimpanzee. This offers a retail edition of the release.

Chimpanzee gives us something of a “tastes great, less filling” experience. While it delivers some excellent nature photography, it suffers from narration that simplifies and “dumbs down” the material. The Blu-ray offers absolutely amazing picture quality along with good audio and supplements highlighted by an informative documentary. Watch this for the visuals but try to ignore the lackluster attempts at a narrative.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
1 3:
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