Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chimpanzee Blu-ray Review

Back in 2008, The Walt Disney Company created the Disneynature film label to release new and independent nature documentaries.  The idea was to continue the tradition of Disney nature films started with the True-Life Adventures series.  Earlier in 2012 the group’s sixth feature film, Chimpanzee was released in theaters.  Narrated by Tim Allen, it tells the story of an orphaned Chimpanzee named Oscar who is taken in by an older male chimp named Freddy.  If you missed this movie in theaters, now you can watch it at home as the Blu-ray and DVD was just released on August 21, 2012.

The Blu-ray offers up 3 language choices: English, French, or Spanish, as well as use of the English Descriptive Video Service for the blind.  Like most Blu-rays, this choice is offered as soon as you put it into your player, but can be changed later on.  You can also turn on subtitles for the hearing impaired.

Several previews are available for viewing on the Blu-ray including one for the upcoming 3D release of Finding Nemo, a movie that we’ll be reviewing on our Podcast later this year.  For those who want to learn more about Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, there is a piece on the “Disney Kids and Nature Celebration” from earlier in 2012 that was held at Walt Disney World.  And others including: Planes, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3, and Secret of the Wings.  

The primary bonus feature of the Blu-ray is a series of 7 shorts called “On Location: The Making Of Chimpanzee”.  In it you learn some very interesting facts about the movie.  For example, it took 3 years to get all the shots required for the film.  The cast had to endure 100% humidity, carrying camera equipment through the forest, for hours at a time, only to get minutes of footage.  The best example of this is the “Forest of Bees” where we watch two members of the crew spend “84 hours in the wild” enduring “173 bee stings” while being attacked by thousands of bees for only “20 seconds” of movie footage.  We also learn that this film would not have been possible at all without the pioneering efforts of Christophe Boesch and his Taï Chimpanzee Project.  

These shorts are a great primer for the story of the movie.  The most interesting thing I learned from it was that the movie that we have was not the original movie that was intended.  The plan was originally to track a young chimpanzee and it’s mother.  However, the mother was unexpectedly killed during the filming and the crew thought their movie was lost.  Then as they kept filming, and thought about rescuing the orphaned chimp, their movie was rescued when the male chimp adopts him.  

In addition, the Blu-ray includes a music video for the movie’s main theme “Rise” by the McClain Sisters - which includes China Anne McClain from A.N.T. Farm on Disney Channel.  There are also two shorts hosted by the McClain sisters.  In the first one they discuss the making of “Rise”, why they sing, and what it was like working with Disney.  They also talk about the Disney Friends for Change campaign, and the things you can do to help with conservation both at home and in your community.

While not containing all the bells and whistles of a big budget action/adventure movie’s Blu-ray, the Chimpanzee Blu-ray delivers content that is great.  It’s germane to both the movie itself, and the message that the Disney and Disneynature brand is trying to deliver to it’s audience. If you take anything away from the extras it should be that conservation is key.


  1. This was such a heartwarming tale, that I couldn’t believe it was a documentary when I first saw it in theaters. What they went through in order to get the footage is crazy, and to think that it was almost all ruined by Oscar’s mother dying. I took my 2 boys to go see it in theaters because it was recommended as a non-boring documentary by a coworker at Dish. We enjoyed it so much that the night we saw it I added it to my Blockbuster @Home account, and it showed up the mail on Friday. What a pleasant surprise, we watched the movie Saturday and the special features Sunday. The boys really liked it again, but I don’t know if it is an instant favorite, so it is probably best that I just rented it.

    1. Nice, it seems like a great family movie for sure.


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