The Discovery Channel launches its feature film series with a rather mediocre documentary about a young leopard in the Serengeti. When the film starts, The Leopard Son is just a cub, under the protection and tutledge of his mother. The movie traces his growth in the two years that follow, as he learns to hunt and moves away to establish his new territory. Although, there are a few good shots of the African landscape, the filmmakers don’t seem to break new ground. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been seen on the Discovery Channel’s small screen efforts. Still, particularly if you like nature, there are enough good shots to keep you enthralled. The film’s major problem is its soundtrack. The ambient nature sounds work nicely, but all too often, the mood is interrupted by Stewart Copeland’s awkward and intrusive musical score, and by the everpresent narration (read by Sir John Gielgud with heavy Shakespearean inflection). The narrative insights struggle to be profound, often drawing parallels between animals and man, but most of the time they simply distract from the tale which would unfold itself if it had but a chance. Nature lovers might not be able to pass up a big screen nature documentary…but my advice would be to wait for video, where you can watch the beautiful pictures muted.
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