Last year, I was a huge critic of the last Disneynature film, Penguins. It made my worst 25 films of 2018 because of the way they modeled the story. There was way too much personification and the main characters went through an idiotic situation that had me rolling my eyes.
So now Disney + has released the next Disneynature film, this time called Elephant.
It is wonderful.
Every complaint I had about Penguins was done perfectly well in Elephants. There was some personification in the documentary, giving the elephants names and motivation, but it did not overpower what was happening on screen. It managed the humor properly and everything seemed to fit.
The doc followed a herd of elephants on their journey across the Kalahari Desert, from the Okavango delta to the Zambezi river and back again. The herd’s matriarch was named Gaia and we also saw a mother Shani and her son Jomo. What they do with these characters really work for the film, as does the dangers they face on their trip such as lions and mud pits. The scene where Gaia goes into the mud to save a young elephant from suffocating in the mud. That was an exceptional scene that fit into the narration.
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is the narrator and does a wonderful job. She is clear and provides the perfect amount of humor and balance in her work.
The shots in these nature documentaries are consistently amazing and beautiful. The creators of these docs, even the Penguins one that I disliked, bring unbelievable imagery of mysterious lands with animals that you rarely get to see.
This film was a real return to the entertainment of this series and I was very happy. Sadly, this would have looked great on the big screen, but, with the Disney + outlet, my guess is that we will not see these released in theaters again.