From the spectacular opening shots, it's clear that Disney Nature has put together something very special in African Cats.
Over two and a half years in production, this wildlife feature follows two prides of rival lions (led by Fang and Kali) and a cheetah (named Sita) in the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. It also documents the story of Mara, a lion cub following in her mother’s paw prints.
African Cats features moments of genuine tension, such as when Sita tries to lure a much bigger lion away from her cubs. In another, pack leader Fang, bravely roars death in the face as he goes nose-to-nose with a giant river crocodile.
There is potential danger or dinner around every corner, with hyenas, cheetahs, elephants, buffalo and even zebras posing a potential threat. Suspense and sadness are contrasted by heart-warming, playful and humorous scenes, such as a lion unsuccessfully trying to take the "lid off" of a tortoise.
By the end of the documentary, you'll care about each of the giant cats and even know their names. The environment itself is another character, with stunning vistas, sunsets and extremes of weather. Playing out almost live a live-action version of The Lion King, it really is incredible to watch.
Narrated by Patrick Stewart, his voice adds gravitas to every scene. Curiously however, the included trailer suggests that Samuel L Jackson would be on vocal duties. Perhaps Disney felt that British audiences would rather listen to the leader of the X Men than the Avengers.
A majestic tale of survival, hope and family, African Cats is a beautifully shot production. Surprisingly absorbing and emotional, this is must-see entertainment for your entire pride. Documentary purrfection.