The previous Disneynature films tended to focus on the most exotic locations and epic wildlife the world has to offer. With Wings of Life, they have taken a slightly different approach, toning down the epic for something a little more intimate, but just as beautiful. Rather than focus on a single animal group (lions, chimpanzees), this film takes the viewer into the world of butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, bats and flowers, focusing on the interconnectedness of these creatures and the links between them that make up part of the great invisible design of life.
As always with Disneynature, the film is a technical marvel, utilizing multiple cameras with varying frame rates to capture the minute details of every activity on display. For example, a droplet of water becomes a thing of sheer beauty, reflecting the image of the flower it trickles down. The filmmakers must have an almost inhuman amount of patience to capture the images on display, having to sit and wait for these beautiful moments of routine to present themselves.
While the film is a gorgeous accomplishment, I have to admit that it isn’t quite as captivating as there other works, probably due to a complete lack of narrative. Meryl Streep narrates the film in what I’m sure is meant to sound like a soothing tone, but it almost comes across as if she is just bored, keeping things too low key. At the beginning of the film, she identifies herself as a flower who is going to explore the creatures named above from her perspective. It works as a way of bringing the narrator into the film, but there isn’t a true purpose to this angle. The film would have worked just as well if she had simply narrated the film as is.
Of course, as the film progresses, we learn about the dangers humanity presents to the creatures we have just witnessed. The film does get a tad manipulative, and rather than just focusing on the majesty of the world we have just seen, tries to shoehorn in a message. I suppose that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it did feel a little forced.
Unfortunately, there are no extra features on the recently released Blu-Ray and DVD combo pack beyond a look at the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and a quick preview of what there next film, Bears. I would have liked to see the methods they utilized in order to capture some of these images, but for some reason they left the behind-the-scenes footage out this round.
This one’s a mixed bag for me. It’s visually stunning as expected, but all rather dull. It was a neat idea, trying to get away from some of the more extreme wildlife and show us a sampling of the world that secretly exists right under our noses, but they didn’t entirely pull it off this round. Still, it’s effective enough for what it is. This is an unusual but worthy entry into the Disneynature family.