Life is an adventure for a young monkey and her son, living among ancient ruins in the jungle. But when her family is forced from their home, she must lead them to safety amidst strange new ... Read allLife is an adventure for a young monkey and her son, living among ancient ruins in the jungle. But when her family is forced from their home, she must lead them to safety amidst strange new creatures and surroundings.Life is an adventure for a young monkey and her son, living among ancient ruins in the jungle. But when her family is forced from their home, she must lead them to safety amidst strange new creatures and surroundings.
"Monkey Kingdom" is the studio's offering for Earth Day 2015, and it comes stamped with a brief introduction that discusses how Disneynature is more than a film company, but an impacting organization that functions on a global scale. Frequent theatergoers hear how Disneynature donates all or most of their films' opening weekend revenue to getting global projects off the ground, and we go through one-by-one how the six previous films impacted something around the world.
Shortly thereafter, we settle into our environment for "Monkey Kingdom:" the jungles of Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka, where we are greeted with Maya, a macaque monkey who resides in the tumultuous community of monkeys. We instantly see that the monkeys have created a class system amongst themselves, with one monkey named Raja assuming the alpha male role and many others having to work their way up the system, or humbly reside at the bottom, in order to enjoy special privileges. Maya is lower on the totem pole, usually the last to garner a meal and the literal doormat for many monkeys around her. Her life becomes more both more rewarding and stressful when she welcomes Kip into her family, her newborn son.
Maya's home is soon overrun by a new tribe of monkeys, who are abusive and determined to command the land, leading her, Kip, and countless other primates to seek shelter somewhere else. This leads to a trip through deep jungles and neighboring villages to try and find a new place to call home.
Unsurprisingly, "Monkey Kingdom" is absolutely evocative in its photography. Directors Mark Linfield and Alastair Fothergill (who worked on last year's "Bears," the only other Disneynature film I've seen) beautifully capture the land of Sri Lanka, never minimizing its natural beauty. The closeup shots of the monkeys, in addition, are especially lovely, as we see the true features that make up the macaque species and the playfulness that inevitably ensues.
But the real treat here is seeing how the life and system of monkeys isn't so different from the way that human beings are governed - by a strict ruling class that leads on fear and the enforcement of conformity costs. This is the part of the monkey environment that may destroy the fantasies of children who think being a monkey is "all fun and games," as Tina Fey, our narrator, puts it.
One must remember that when they see a Disneynature film, they are seeing a piece of entertainment and not a formal nature documentary; one can see plenty of those on Television for free. "Monkey Kingdom" shows us a surprisingly different life to a species of animals many of us probably think we know pretty well, and in that sense, Disneynature has, yet again, done its job.
- Apr 25, 2015