Across the Indian Ocean from one another in Kenya and Borneo are two very unique animal refugee camps. Both take in young animals orphaned by poaching or deforestation, raise them under proper care for several years, preparing them for a happy ending – being released back into the wild with a knowledge of how to survive and be free.
Although both camps have the same goal, they deal with different animals, so the manner in which they each achieve it is drastically different one from the other. One camp raises baby elephants, and although some of the smaller ones are the same size as large dogs, they sure can prove to be difficult at times. The other camp raises baby orangutans, which we already are born with mischievous tendencies.
Born to be Wild bounces back and forth from one shelter to the other to avoid stagnancy. But with a short 40-minute runtime, taking into account the credits, that means you are getting under 20 minutes of footage from each camp – less time than it takes to watch a commercial-free sitcom.
Instead of deeply diving into just exactly what they do to prepare the animals for living in the wild, it is filled with beautiful IMAX 3D fluff – watching orangutans swing from tree to tree and elephants use their snouts or kick soccer balls. While the film looks absolutely stunning, it lacks the meaty information that exposes the real work of these camps.
As he has been known to do in the past, Morgan Freeman (March of the Penguins) lends his vocal talents to Born to be Wild‘s narration. But because there is so little information being told, he hardly has anything to narrate. More voice-over is given by translators than Freeman.
I love wildlife footage – especially when it is shot well. But there is more to nature documentaries than just showing something you may not have seen before. Perhaps Planet Earth has spoiled me, raising the bar much higher than it has ever been. But watching pretty pictures with no details is like flipping through someones photos from an exotic vacation without having them there to describe it for you. It is nothing more than pretty pictures. Not a thing is learned.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.