Disney’s Born in China takes viewers to a part of the country most do not know. On a journey through the wilderness, we visit animal families in their native habitats in China as they go through the circle of life.
Female chiru, also known as Tibetan antelope, leave the males in the spring to head to their breeding grounds at a remote lake to give birth. Once the young chiru are able to make the journey, they leave the lake with their mothers to rejoin the males of the herd. Ya Ya is a panda who has given birth to her first cub, Mei Mei. Ya Ya watches as Mei Mei grows and finds her way in the world. Tao Tao is a golden snub-nosed monkey. He is jealous of the attention his baby sister is getting from their parents. Tao Tao longing for acceptance and adventure, joins a group of outcast monkeys known as the Lost Boys. Dawa is a snow leopard who spends her days hunting and defending her territory from other snow leopards. She is also raising her two cubs. As winter comes, life becomes more difficult.
Narrated by John Krasinski and Xun Zhou, Born in China is the latest film in Disney’s Nature series. Traveling to remote locations in China, the filmmakers strived to film the animals with as little disruption to their lives as possible.
As one would expect, the visuals and wide, sweeping landscapes are beautifully shot. The camera crew worked tirelessly in sometimes extreme conditions to get the perfect shot. It paid off.
The stories of the animals are filled with plenty of funny moments, helped by the narration. The film also has more than its share of “aww” moments, spending almost the entire time focusing on the youngest of the animals. So much so that there is a good chance you will want a pet monkey when it’s over.
Born in China is a nature documentary that is reminiscent of the nature shows like Wild America or National Geographic specials I would watch as a kid. They are both educational and entertaining. Where the shows have the upper hand is that they were limited to an hour and included commercial breaks. Even though Born in China has a very short run time of an hour and sixteen minutes, it feels much longer.
With cute stars and great visuals, Born in China could be both informative and fun if only it could get past feeling so long. If you are going to see it, I recommend seeing it on the big screen to fully appreciate the beauty. One word of warning, however, especially for those with younger children: This is a Disney movie. Disney movies all have one thing in common. Be prepared for potentially difficult discussions with the kids.