‘The Elephant Queen’ Review: Apple’s Kid-Friendly Nature Doc Offers a Necessary Corrective to ‘The Lion King’

Whereas Disney’s hollow digital cash grab offered a soulless simulacrum of the African continent’s animal kingdom — one that somehow felt anthropomorphized and utterly alien in equal measure — this kid-friendly nature doc takes the opposite approach, cutting four years of stunning vérité footage into a cute story about the circle of life.

Its best moments reveal a rich spectrum of natural expression that embarrasses the limits of photo-real animation, and make it seem as though Disney was insulting life itself by even trying to recreate it out of code. While horizon-expanding shows like “Planet Earth” have made this degree of access and precision feel somewhat de rigueur, Deeble and Stone’s documentary stands out for its narrow focus and incredible tenacity.

The movie sticks with the same herd for long enough that young viewers can appreciate their plight, grow connected to these “characters,” and even see their own families
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