Live, powerful carnivores filmed in their natural environment should be a can’t-miss premise, yet Disney somehow manages to fumble African Cats
. The stars of the show are two families, one headed up by a single cheetah mom and the other a pride of lions under threat from a rival gang. Samuel L. Jackson’s overwritten narration guides us through a series of hunting trips and turf-war confrontations, adding an irritatingly theatricality to the proceedings, which are carefully edited to the point of bloodlessness. Lacking faith in the inherent value of documenting these creatures, the filmmakers layer on a narrative that, no matter how accurately it reflects what happened on location in Kenya, feels artificially imposed. From both the educational and entertainment perspectives, there’s nothing here that Discovery Channel hasn’t done better.