Camera online

Michael B. Jordan is the most endearing Nature-Doc narrator


You probably know actor Michael B. Jordan as the star of the Creed franchise or as Black Pantheris the anti-hero. But this year, the sexiest man alive (according to People magazine) has ventured into new territory: nature documentaries. And frankly? We are there for that.

Following in the footsteps of famous storytellers like Morgan Freeman and Sigourney Weaver, Jordan is the voice of america the beautiful, a six-part National Geographic series about North American flora and fauna that began streaming this month on Disney+. The show features stunning aerial footage of dramatic landscapes and cloud formations (some captured by cameras attached to fighter jets) and incredibly close looks at creatures searching for food and hunted prey. The footage is amazing, but we especially love Jordan’s endearing storytelling.

america the beautiful isn’t a particularly groundbreaking show, but that’s okay. It captures the previously undocumented behaviors of several animals, from the likes of the elusive Grand Canyon mountain lions to the nation’s smallest toad. The latest episode focuses in a refreshing way on conservation groups trying to protect endangered habitats. But the series contains a healthy dose of American exceptionalism. Animals are presented as “American heroes,” icons, or legends throughout the series, which might sound a bit off-the-cuff. (Not to be this dudebut so-called heroism is only the behavioral and physiological adaptation of creatures to their particular environment.)

Jordan, with a voice as recognizable as anyone, pulls off the hero motif better than many could. But his most delightful moments as a narrator come when he impersonates a creature and, more specifically, when commenting on its mating habits. It’s all the more charming that, unlike beloved nature series host David Attenborough, you don’t get the sense that he spends much time talking about gray whale migratory patterns or practices. hunting crocodiles. His seriousness attracts you directly.

Below are my five favorite Hollywood A-lister storytelling moments from america the beautiful:

His imitation of the red squirrel (episode 1)

(Photo: National Geographic for Disney+)

The first creature we meet america the beautiful is a red squirrel in the Teton Range of Wyoming, munching on pine cones and avoiding large predators. As viewers, this is our first look at Jordan’s storytelling. It begins by sharing the kind of information about red squirrels that one would expect from a nature doc (what they eat, where they live, their predators). But Jordan breaks it up with lots of nice comments (“Yeah, he’s small. But trust me, size isn’t everything!”) and dialogue from the squirrel’s perspective (“Darn!” says Jordan , as the squirrel watches his raid stash of pine cones). Jordan keeps it just as light and fun throughout the series.

Whenever he explains a species’ mating behaviors (episodes 1-5)

(Photo: National Geographic for Disney+)

Many species perform their wackiest and most dramatic behaviors when it comes to attracting a mate, and Jordan strikes the right balance between “Uh, what?” and “Dignified adult who won’t laugh”. He gives a male hummingbird props for his iridescent purple throat feathers (“He throws great shapes!”) and describes the climax of alligator courtship as “foreplay, reptile-like” . Jordan dispels any discomfort or embarrassment – sometimes by leaning into it – and makes the weird accessible.

His pronunciation of “Marmot” (episode 3)

(Photo: National Geographic for Disney+)

Jordan calls the chubby rodents fighting and munching wildflowers on the slopes of Mount Rainier “mar-MOTs” instead of “MAR-mots.” It’s really endearing.

His comedic timing describing a hunting red fox (episode 5)

(Photo: National Geographic for Disney+)

Knowing when to be quiet is essential to good nature-doc storytelling, and, well, have you ever seen a red fox hunting in the snow? They jump high and dive straight down, plunging headfirst into the galleries, tail and back protruding awkwardly. It’s quite hilarious. At the end of a mostly silent hunting sequence, in which no storytelling could match the spectacle of the diving foxes, Jordan deadpans says, “A little trickery goes a long way.” Although foxes are undeniably cunning, they don’t look it; and whether or not it was supposed to be in check, I laughed.

When he pulls out a bear pun (episode 2)

(Photo: National Geographic for Disney+)

On screen, it’s spring. Bears, young and old, eagerly rub against tree trunks in the wetlands of the southeastern United States to thin their thick coats before high summer temperatures arrive. It would be too hot for the bears, or, as Jordan puts it, “unbearable.” Maybe I’m just a sucker for a pun, but a little irreverence can go a long way.