Monday, November 14, 2016

More Buddy Davis' Amazing Adventures!

Swamp Man!
45 min / 2012
RATING: 7/10

Our family really enjoyed the first two in this series of "Buddy Davis' Amazing Adventures" (see the reviews here and here) so when another two popped up at our local library we had to check them out.

Once again Buddy is our guide as we go out and explore God's great outdoors from an explicitly Christian perspective. In Swamp Man! Buddy takes us to the Florida Everglades where he gets up close and personal with alligators, lizards, dolphins, turtles, manatees, and snakes – lots of snakes!

This is fast paced, cutting from one animal to the next every minute or two, and in between Buddy has us zooming around on a airboat, a mudboat, a motorboat and an ATV. So there's lots of action to keep kids' attention, and mom and dad are sure to learn something too. I think I enjoyed this one almost as much as my daughters – very good family viewing!

Now anyone with a snake phobia will want to give this one a miss - of all the animals we meet, these are by far the feature creature. That's why this isn't a video I'd show my pre-school kids right before they go to sleep. It's not all that scary, particularly mid-day...but alligators, bears, and snakes at bedtime don't seem a good combo.

That aside, this is great family treat - one that mom and dad and kids anywhere from 2 and up will enjoy.

25 min / 2015
RATING: 6/10

This time we head way up north, to Alaska! Bears are the big focus this time, as Buddy teaches us about the different species, and even shows us the damage a bear can do to a cabin (fortunately it happened while they were away!).

There is a bit of an evangelism focus in these videos, which comes out in this one when Buddy talks about his love of fishing and segues to what the Bible says about becoming "fishers of men."

Alaska! is a short adventure, at just 25 minutes, and while my kids loved it, and my wife appreciated it too, I found this one a little lacking in content and slower-paced. If your family has liked the other Buddy Davis adventures this will be worth checking out too – Buddy is a charming man – but this might not be the best one to start with.

You can buy all of these "Amazing Adventures" at (just search for "buddy davis amazing").

Related reviews: other Buddy Davis adventures

Davis and a robotic dinosaur assistant tackle the Flood in A Jurassic Ark Mystery
Buddy heads deep, deep underground: Extreme Caving
This is a man who looooves dinosaurs: I Dig Dinosaurs! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos

78 min /
RATING: 7/10

I enjoyed this documentary, but I'm really glad I gave it a quick preview before trying to share it with the kids.

There was a hint on the back cover of the DVD that this might include more than stunning visuals of flamingos. There were plenty of flamingo pictures, but there was also one hyena! So was this going to be a nature film where the good guys get eaten? Yup, I know that happens in the world, but I don't know if my kids have to be exposed to that quite yet. So I gave it a fast forward viewing and found newly and not yet hatched flamingo chicks getting eaten by Matabou storks (30 minutes in), mongeese (53 min), and Hyenas (62 min). Oh, and at about the 40 minute mark we get to watch a struggling, crippled chick how is left behind to die.

So I will not be sharing this with my 6-year-old and under crew.

Who would like it? The visuals are indeed stunning – the opening shots of a sea of bobbing flamingos are exotic, strange, otherworldly.

But in addition to the shots of "nature, read in tooth and claw" the film will discourage some viewers with its slow pacing. The birds are the stars here, and flamingos, it turns out, do a lot of standing around. So action is minimal, and the camera tends to linger long over each shot. But one man's slow pacing is another's calm close-ups and patient panoramic views. A bird lover will find much to love!


When it comes to cautions, other than the scenes where feathers are flying (and these only add up to a total of maybe 3 or 4 minutes) the only nit I can pick are a few moments in the narration of a vague mystic non-Christian spirituality. So, for example, at one point we're told:
"The story of the bird is a promise to us - Nature's affirmation. In winter or in death, in times of desolation. the rain will arrive, the call of the birds will be heard and everything, everything, can begin again"
Nothing all that disturbing. I mean, we weren't expecting anything Christian from Disney, right?


So who should see The Crimson Wing? This is an intriguing, visual feast best suited for documentary-loving older children or adults who already love these birds and would love to learn more.

Related reviews: on flying creatures

A fantastic Intelligent Design documentary: Flight: the Genius of Birds