Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch

Douglas Durden
With its close-knit family of lions and guest appearances by other
animals of the African savanna, it would be easy to dismiss
this as a copy of "The Lion King." But there's a huge difference.
These majestic felines are the real thing, not animated versions.
Thanks to computer wizardry that creates facial expressions
and moving mouths, however, they're very chatty.
A more minor difference is the fact that the central character is a
female cub named Suki, not the male cub of Disney's beloved
movie and musical.
Over the two-hour span of A&E's TV movie, Suki learns that
teamwork is the key to survival. First, however, she is a naughty,
and totally captivating, little cub who leads her brother, Linus,
Together, they continually disobey their mother, Macheeba, and
bother the two senior males of the pride, James and Eddie. (If
you can accept talking lions, then you can accept the fact that
some have exotic names like Macheeba, while others are named
"How come male lions get to lay around and wait for us to get
their food?" is just one of Suki's many complaints to her mother.
She is exaggerating since she doesn't actually participate in the
Suki is tenderhearted and doesn't like to kill. "Why can't we
just eat grass? Everyone else does."
"Pride" is meant as a coming-of-age story complete with strict
mother, rebellious teenager and an attractive bad boy to create
more problems.
Adding immensely to the style and fun of the story are the actors
who lend their voices - all of them British - to the talking
Kate Winslet is Suki, bright young lioness who yearns for more
than her immediate pride; Rupert Graves is her timid brother,
Linus; and Helen Mirren plays their mother, a lioness with a lot
of lessons to teach.
"Everyone has a role, a home and a welcome, if they toe the line"
(no pun intended, we're sure), she tells her children.
Another great voice comes from Sean Bean as Dark, handsome bad
boy who steals Suki's heart. Dark belongs to the Wanderers, a rival
pride across the river that threatens Suki's family.
But the real star of "Pride" is something called a "boulder cam."
This remote-controlled fiberglass "rock" with a camera hidden
inside puts the viewer eye level with the lions themselves.
The boulder cam sits or moves while the lions go about doing
their thing, including encountering baboons or slipping on rocks.
The filmmakers then took all that South African footage and built
a story around it.
"Pride" may be the cutest live-action animal film since "Babe" -
that is, if you like animals given human characteristics and
dialogue. Somewhere, there is probably a naturalist who will be
insulted by the idea of a lion who doesn't want to chomp down
on a wart hog.
And speaking of chomping down, "Pride" may be funny and full of
valuable lessons, but it might not be for the youngest viewers.
Lions being lions, there are a number of carcasses and
several deaths - despite Suki's stab at vegetarianism.


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