Pride - Press Archive - TV Review

 
Source: Reuters

TV Review: Pride
Sun Jun 20, 2004

By Michael R. Farkash
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - A visually inventive docudrama about
lions mixes animation and live action, with stars voicing the characters of
the big cats. The problem is, "Pride" is less than the sum of its parts --
it's not a pure report on the life cycle of lions, instead offering an
unsatisfying fictionalized story and invented dialogue that wander all
over the place.
 
Moments of tension exist, but there's no compelling through-line in the
wildlife adventure featuring the voices of Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren,
John Hurt and others.
 
A puzzling element is the question of the target audience. The voices
and personalities of the lion cubs are overwhelmingly cute and cuddly,
seemingly aimed at a very young viewership. However, the grittier aspects
of leonine existence -- including scenes of hunting, a portion of the mating
ritual and a cub's obsession with milk-giving nipples -- are definitely adult
material.
 
Real lion activity is mixed with renderings of ani-lions, whose mouths
move to voice the very human dialogue. The animation, from Jim Henson's
Creature Shop, of lions making wisecracks or doing unlikely stunts, is
designed to fool the eye with realistic computer images of the big cats.
 
Live-action photography -- accomplished through the use of a "boulder cam,"
a camera hidden inside what looks like a rock -- gives us an intimate view of
the private world of the carnivorous kings and queens of the jungle. It's a
hint of what this docu could have been without the overly cute dialogue.
 
In the story, Winslet plays lioness Suki, a bold feline with a finicky
conscience. She decides to become a vegetarian, and even though that
doesn't work out, she refuses to hunt other animals, rebelling against her
heritage. Her brother, Linus (Rupert Graves, "Extreme Ops"), is a
cowardly lion and has his own problems coping with the savage life.
 
Their mother, Macheeba (Mirren), tries her best to teach her cubs the
ways of the wild, but these kids just aren't measuring up. When Suki
develops a romantic yen for a rogue lion named Dark (Sean Bean, "Troy"),
and runs off to join him, Macheeba blames herself for drawing too firm a
line in the sand for her wayward daughter.
 
The unfolding story encompasses questions of loyalty, bad romantic
choices and the necessity of assuming one's proper role in society. In
the case of lion culture, as Suki discovers, it's hunt other animals or
starve.
 
Young viewers will be spared the more explicit images of lions tearing an
animal to pieces, though there are scenes of lions bringing down their
prey and munching on carcasses.
 
A BBC/A&E Television Networks co-production in association with John
Downer and ProSieben Prods.
 
Voice cast: Suki: Kate Winslet; Linus: Rupert Graves; Macheeba: Helen
Mirren; Dark: Sean Bean; Fleck: Martin Freeman; Harry: John Hurt; Lush:
Kwame Kwei-Armah; James: Robbie Coltrane; Eddie: Jim Broadbent.
 
Executive producer: Simon Curtis; Producer-director: John Downer;
Producer: Christopher Hall; Screenwriter: Simon Nye; Director of
photography: Michael W. Richards; Character effects and animation:
Jim Henson's Creature Shop; Editor: Stuart Napier; Composer: George
Fenton; Executive producer for A&E Television: Delia Fine; Executive
producer for the BBC: Laura Mackie.
Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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