Polar Bear (PG)
Doc has majestic footage, positive lessons, natural perils.
The Disneynature documentary “Polar Bear” — from the directors behind such previous films as “Elephant,” “Penguins” and “Planet Earth” — offers beautiful imagery and meaningful environmental lessons. Narrator Catherine Keener recounts the lives of a mama bear and her two cubs from the perspective of one of the cubs. Be ready for moments that show the harsh side of life in the wild: Female bears and cubs are preyed upon by male bears, and (spoiler alert) a cub dies. Footage shows the bears stalking, capturing and feeding on prey, including baby penguins and walruses, eggs, seals and a dead whale. Narration discusses the bears getting to the “juicy goodness” of the whale under its thick skin before they must wash the blood off their fur after feasting. The movie also warns that global warming is leading to “almost insurmountable” changes in the polar bears’ environment, but assures viewers that the animals are “great survivors” because they pass down knowledge and master changes. (83 minutes)
Available on Disney Plus.
Battle Kitty (TV-Y7)
Semi-interactive series is edgy fun, with cartoon violence.
“Battle Kitty” is an interactive adventure series about a cute little kitty and his best friend, Orc (both characters are voiced by show creator Matt Layzell). The two travel through their futuristic medieval world fighting enemies and exploring. When Kitty gets agitated, his powers are activated. There’s not a lot of interactivity within individual episodes, but there is a map where viewers can choose what they want to watch; they aren’t able to access certain episodes until they’ve collected “keys” by watching others, not unlike completing video game quests. Expect lots of cartoonish violence with an edge: Most of the orc characters are big, scary and mean; Battle Kitty gets electrocuted in a pool, and characters are trampled. Language includes “butts,” “big poo-head” and “booty,” and there’s fart humor. Orcs drink what looks like beer or ale. (Nine episodes ranging in length from 22 to 54 minutes)
Available on Netflix.
The Biggest Little Farm: The Return (Unrated)
Short doc sequel celebrates harmony, resilience of nature.
“The Biggest Little Farm: The Return” is a half-hour follow-up to the sweet 2019 film about a family that created and runs a sustainable farm in Southern California. It offers positive messages about caring for the land and allowing ecosystems and wildlife to flourish in natural ways. There are also potentially upsetting scenes of animals — including baby animals — getting wounded, attacked or killed. Piglets are accidentally smothered by their mother (one gets buried by a farmer, and another has a wound sewn up in a makeshift operating room), and there are pecking chickens, scary snakes, prowling predators like coyotes and some destructive wildfires, thunder and windstorms. References are made to breeding a pig, which has as many as 17 piglets in one litter and spends a lot of time nursing. (29 minutes)
Available on Disney Plus.
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