Given that there is already a very comprehensive study of the Kalahari’s cute meerkat population in the form of the popular docu-soap TV series, ‘Meerkat Manor’, the makers of this doc needed to pull out all the stops. Yet, despite the involvement of a producer from the BBC’s Natural History Unit and the late Paul Newman on voiceover duty, ‘The Meerkats’ is just another run-of-the-mill wildlife foray. The visuals are disappointing and below the BBC’s usual quality benchmark; it’s no fault of the makers, but even the yellowish tone of the Kalahari becomes obtrusive. Director James Honeyborne’s theatrical debut realises all the clichés of the nature doc, from the obligatory aerial fly-overs to the contrived survival sequences featuring a solitary martial eagle and a tenacious Cape cobra. The soundtrack is all penny whistles, ‘Lion King’-style African chants and swooning strings; even Newman’s dialogue is delivered too earnestly.
Friday August 7 2009