Fuzzy, fluffy or scaly, with two fins, four limbs or eight legs, and with wings, tails or hooves – we all love animal films (yep, even those of you who say they hate animals, love them). But with so many to pick and choose from, how do you know where to start? Here are some of our top picks for the best live-action animal films that you need to see right now.
Life of Pi (2012)
The story is from a book by the same name, of a kid who is lost at sea, in a life-boat – with a tiger. A writer has tracked down an Indian man who lives in Canada, by the name of Pi Patel. Pi has a story to tell about his journey to Canada. His family owns a zoo in India, but when he’s 16, his father announces they will move to Canada. They go by boat, taking some of the animals with them. One of the animals is a tiger. The ship goes down and much of the film is taken up by Pi trying to survive and keep the tiger alive. There’s a twist in this tale, so no spoilers!
Susan Ramsay, Editor
The Barefoot Executive (1971)
It’s really, really old, and hardly anyone has heard of it, but The Barefoot Executive stars an unbelievably cute chimp as a trend-spotter who helps a human friend rise through the ranks at a TV station by correctly predicting which shows will be most popular with viewers. As well as being hilarious, it’s a reminder of how brilliant chimpanzees and other apes are, how closely related we are to them, and how hard we should be working to protect them and their natural habitats.
Karly Cox, Deputy editor
Free Willy (1993)
Since I don’t think Jurassic Park counts, my new favourite is Free Willy. I first watched it when I was about six years old, and I was immediately enchanted by the bond between Jesse and the orca/killer whale Willy. I think that’s where my love for animal welfare and concept of what friends will do for each other started.
Heidi Yeung, Web sub-editor
Dr Dolittle (1998)
This feel-good film is an animal lover’s delight. Eddie Murphy never fails to make people laugh with his reactions and crazy outbursts. Dolittle starts to question his sanity after the animals around him start speaking English. There’s an especially funny scene in the vet’s waiting room – I won’t spoil it for you! While the movie itself is not brilliantly shot, there are still plenty of laughs that come from watching the doctor, his family and the furry creatures around him. What are you waiting for?
Andrew McNicol, Content creator
Fly Away Home (1996)
Starring a teeny tiny Anna Paquin, this film follows a 13-year-old girl as she finds,
hatches, and raises a flock of geese. The geese think of her as their mother, and they follow her everywhere she goes. She soon realises the geese will need to be taught how to fly, and will need to be led south for the winter. Cue the plucky teen flying a lightweight aircraft across the country – geese in tow. This is an utterly amazing film and deserves to be watched by everyone. Like, now.
Ginny Wong, Sub-editor
Babe (1995) and Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
While picking two movies might be cheating, they’re nigh inseparable, and both are cornerstones of the animal movie genre. Babe is the story of an unlikely hero that overcomes adversity. If a “sheep-pig” can do the work of a sheepdog, what can’t a human do?
Wong Tsui-kai, Web reporter
10 Promises To My Dog (2008)
A dog might be only a small part of your life, but for them, you are their everything. This film tells the story of Akari Saito and her dog Socks. The older that Akari gets, the more she forgets how important she is to Socks. It’s not until Socks dies that she remembers the 10 promises she made to Socks when he was little. This is a tear-jerker. Bring tissues.
Tiffany Choi, Junior reporters’ manager
Cats & Dogs (2001)
This comedy-action movie focuses on a scientist’s quest to find a cure for people with dog allergies. The cats, under the rule of evil Mr Tinkles, try to get their paws on the formula and make the world a feline-friendly one. Lou, the Brady family’s dog, is actually a secret agent caught up in this vicious fight between canines and felines. This is a funny, light-hearted take on why cats and dogs don’t get on.
Sebastien Raybaud, Reporter
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009)
This film has one simple message: your pets will love you – forever. Hachi, an Akita Inu, is very loyal, and waits for Professor Parker Wilson at a railway station every day. He doesn’t realise that Wilson is dead, and continues to wait for him every single day for the rest of his life. This film is about the unconditional love, loyalty and friendship between humans and animals.
Ben Pang, Reporter
The Doberman Gang (1972)
Everyone knows that the toughest thing about robbing a bank isn’t getting in and stealing the money – it’s getting away with it. But one shady animal trainer thinks he’s found the solution: he’ll get his dogs to do it. He and his crew train a pack of vicious Dobermans to charge into a bank. The fierce barking and sharp fangs are enough to convince any bank employee to follow orders. Once the money is in the bag, the dogs charge out, leaving the bank customers mightily relieved. Can they do it again? Or will they get distracted by squirrels and kittens on their next mission?
Sam Gusway, Sub-editor
Mighty Joe Young (1998)
This is a feel-good movie about a massive mountain gorilla targeted by a revenge-driven poacher. In this film, starring Bill Paxton and Charlize Theron, the 4.6-metre-tall beast is taken from Africa to the US to ensure its safety. But danger is not far
behind as the poacher follows the gorilla
to California. The special effects are impressive, considering the film was made more than 20 years ago. Mighty Joe Young is an all-action movie that leaves you with a warm glow.
Maligawage Premaratne, Sub-editor
Mr Popper’s Penguins (2011)
If cute and cuddly penguins aren’t a good enough reason ... well, everyone needs a good laugh from time to time. Watching (and even just thinking of) this movie always puts me in a good mood, just like panda videos do. This film isn’t just about the adorable animals either – it’s about people, how we grow, and how we love.
Young Wang, Web reporter
The Jungle Book (2016)
This isn’t just about the special effects (although they’re awesome). It’s not about the lush scenery (although it’s amazing). It’s great because a classic tale is told in a moving, wonderful way. This film looks at what makes us all humans. It’s about what defines good and what defines bad, and how hard it can be to separate one from the other. Look at how Kaa’s kindness towards Mowgli hides the snake’s actual evil intent, and how Baloo the bear pushes Mowgli away in order to protect him from the murderous tiger Shere Khan. I can watch this film again and again, because I feel like you can find inspiration every single time you watch it.
Nicola Chan, Reporter