Disney should be given a lot of credit for starting to offer films like "Chimpanzee", which is part of the new DisneyNature production arm (4 more films are currently listed as being planned for release under the DisneyNature banner.) Given the studio's worldwide reach, it's thrilling to see that they are providing a new generation of young viewers with programming that is both exciting and richly educational. "Earth" is another film in the production series, as is "Crimson Wings".
This latest project in the nature series from Disney is smaller in scope, but is nonetheless quite entertaining. The picture largely revolves around a group of chimps - in particular, a little baby chimp named Oscar, who is a tiny, cute little near-newborn as the picture starts. His mother is Isha and their group is lead by a large, grey-bearded male named Freddy.
The picture provides a moving (occasionally heartbreaking) and often fascinating look into the social aspect of a pack of chimps, as well as the difficulty and reality of life in the jungle. Food is not always easily found, and sadly, that leads the chimps into the territory of rivals, with tragic results. The movie doesn't show details, but the subject matter behind some scenes may make it difficult/inappropriate for the youngest audience members to watch.
On the lighter side, the movie provides a fascinating overview of the interaction of the tribe, including moments like watching chimps teach each other and figuring out how to use primitive tools. Oscar's progression through the joys and hardships of childhood is also compelling. The film's cinematography is a delight, doing a superb job capturing the action and the delightful beauty of the jungle environment. The one negative on the production side is not too much of an issue: Tim Allen's narration is both a little overdone (the picture could have benefited from just having jungle sounds as the only audio at times) and a little overly sitcom-y (there's literally a "Home Improvement" reference at one point.)
Some minor concerns aside, "Chimpanzee" is another enjoyable effort from Disney and should entertain older children.
VIDEO: "Chimpanzee" is presented on Blu-ray in 1.85:1 (1080p/AVC) and the result is an absolutely reference quality presentation. Sharpness and detail are stunning: small details on the various animals are seen with the kind of glassy, precise detail that shows what the format is capable of. Small object detail - even grains of sand - are shown with a three-dimensional look and feel that's dazzling. Aside from a couple of minor instances of edge enhancement, the picture remained free and clear of any sort of concerns. Colors seemed pure and life-like throughout the presentation, with not a bit of smearing or other issues.
SOUND: The DTS-HD 5.1 presentation doesn't provide an aggressive audio presentation, but surrounds are put to use on occasion for light ambience and score. Audio quality was fine, with crisp, clear dialogue and well-recorded animal sounds.
EXTRAS: An enjoyable and informative "Making Of" documentary, "Rise" music video by the McClain sisters, "Making Of" for the music vid, "Disney's Conservation Legacy" feature, "Disney's Friends for Change" feature, "See Chimpanzee, Save Chimpanzees" feature.
Final Thoughts: Some minor concerns aside, "Chimpanzee" is another enjoyable effort from Disney and should entertain older children.