Island of Lemurs: Madagascar (3 stars)

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar

A beautiful but over-simplified family-friendly nature doc narrated by Morgan Freeman

At 40 minutes, David Douglas’ slender, family-friendly IMAX lemur doc is a hark back to the format’s days as a short-form edutainment outlet. Friendly, photogentic primates leap across the massive screen while Morgan Freeman’s subterranean tones introduce some of the main species of lemur, from the famous ring-tailed model to the minuscule (and endearingly feisty) mouse lemur.

The film starts with an attention-grabbing and somewhat bizarre re-enactment of the proto-lemur’s flight to Madagascar: as the dinosaurs are wiped out on what will later be mainland Africa, the lemur’s ancestors board a naturally-formed raft and escape onto the high seas, landing on Madagascar some time later. While the idea of animals embarking on an epic adventure may sound a bit Homeward Bound – or even, dare I say it, a bit Madagascar – it’s apparently the best working theory scientists have as to how lemurs first came to the island (at least, according to writer/producer Drew Fellman).

This narrative does feel like it has been drastically simplified for the kids though, which is a recurring issue throughout the film: at one point, a primatologist expresses a desire for two potential mates to ‘fall in love’. Still, the cinematography is spectacular, the soundtrack is decent (if relentlessly upbeat) and your little monkeys will most likely leave the cinema infused with a lust for nature. Or at the very least, they’ll stop singing ‘Do You Wanna Build a Snowman’ for five minutes.

Screening at Cineworld, Edinburgh on Sun 22 Jun as part of Edinburgh International Film Festival.

'Island of Lemurs: Madagascar' Trailer

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar

  • 3 stars
  • 2014
  • Canada / US / Madagascar
  • 39min
  • U
  • Directed by: David Douglas
  • Written by: Drew Fellman
  • Cast: Patricia Wright, Morgan Freeman, Hantanirina Rasamimanana
  • UK release: 5 September 2014

A documentary that follows Dr Patricia C Wright's mission to help lemurs, the highly evolved creatures who arrived on Madagascar millions of years ago as castaways but are now highly endangered.