As a HUGE fan of Monkeys in general(don’t ask), I was excited to hear that Disney was making the documentary film Monkey Kingdom.
Monkey Kingdom is the sixth theatrical release for Disneynature(which happens to be the first new Disney-branded film label from The Walt Disney Studios in more than 60 years.) As only Disney can do, this documentary film beautifully tells the story of Maya(a single mother macaque monkey on the lowest end of the social chain) as she works to survive.
The whole story is wonderfully narrated by Tina Fey and her humor and wit really give the monkeys and settings some personality. The cinematography and photography in this film are simply incredible. In fact, I actually felt like I was part of the monkey tribe and witnessing all of their adventures in person. The tribe resides within the Sri Lanka Jungle in a majestic stone structure named Castle Rock. This place has a huge fig tree where the alpha male (Raja) rules the roost and eats from the top of the tree where the fruit is the ripest. Due to social status, poor Maya is forced to eat the scraps that fall from the top.
A major storyline is when Maya ventures off alone with a hunky non-tribe monkey named Kumar much to the chagrin of Raja. Maya ends up pregnant and Raja soon kicks Kumar out of the tribe and forces Maya to raise her baby (Kip) alone.
Once a rival monkey tribe ousts Maya’s tribe from Castle Rock, we get to view Maya’s cunning “street sense” and leadership as the tribe follows her to a town nearby where they can all steal food and find shelter until they can plan a revenge attack to gain back Castle Rock. She is reunited with Kumar and he becomes the new alpha male of the group replacing a disgraced Raja.
Directors Mark Linfield and Allastair Fothergill do a great job of showing us the trials and tribulations from the monkey’s perspective and combined with the extraordinary filmmaking, produce something really special!
Be sure to stick around for the credits as there are a lot of great behind the scenes stuff showing exactly how remarkably difficult some of the footage was to capture. Also, for every ticket sold opening week (April 17-23, 2015), Disneynature will make a donation to Conservation International to help protect monkeys and other endangered species in their natural habitats.
This was a wonderful treat to watch and a strong 8 out of 10 stars.