Disney should be given a lot of credit for starting to offer films like "Crimson Wing", 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 "Oceans".
Directors Matthew Aeberhard and Leander Ward headed to Lake Natron in Tanzania to film a group of Flamingos that migrate to the area every year. The birds flutter about, nervously looking this way and that, with their red eyes scanning their surroundings for trouble and potential mates. Despite the blazing sun, the birds make their best attempt not to wilt by wading around in the water. Unfortunately, the salt water can have a devastating effect on the birds, as the sodium in the water can harden around their feet.
Over the course of the film, the birds begin to raise families, and the little ones struggle to grow up and reach the point where they can head out on their own. The picture is harsh at times, and it must be said that, despite being a family film, it does not shy away from showing unpleasant reality - younger viewers may be troubled by some moments of the film. Technically, this is another stunning offering in the Disneynature series, with gorgeous visuals and a fine score. The narration is a bit of a miss; it's overdone, dry and not particularly informative, but isn't too much of a minus against the film.
The narrow focus of the picture does seem likely to be a considerable flaw, given that the nearly 90-minute running time is considerably more than a comparable and more compact IMAX nature documentary on the subject would be. However, the film surprises in that it does a very nice job filling the running time and presenting what feels like a full "story arc" about these creatures. Overall, I found "Oceans" to be a bit more successful as a blend of education and entertainment, but "Crimson Wing" remains a boldly and beautifully filmed nature documentary that remains engaging.
VIDEO: As with "Oceans", Disney certainly delivers with this stunning 1.85:1 (1080p/AVC) presentation. While a touch less sparkling than the "Oceans" presentation (a touch of edge enhancement in a few scenes, a trace of pixelation), this is otherwise a delight: sharpness and detail are stellar during most scenes, and fine details are often clearly visible. Colors are delightful: the reds of the birds are rich, bold and life-like, with a pure, natural appearance and no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The film is presented with a DTS-HD 5.1 audio presentation. Audio quality is fine, with crisp, warm narration and a clear, rich score. There is not a ton of activity from the surround channels, but the rear speakers do provide some mild ambience and other elements at times.
EXTRAS: "Lake Natron Diaries" (a very good "making of" documentary), filmmaker annotations, screensaver and "Living Planet: Explore the Earth" interactive experience.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I found "Oceans" to be a bit more successful as a blend of education and entertainment, but "Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingo" remains a boldly and beautifully filmed nature documentary that is mostly engaging. Recommended.
The Film B