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Perry’s Previews Movie Review & Interview: Born to Be Wild – It Takes Only One

Published on: 12th May, 2011

Perry’s Previews Movie Review: Born to Be Wild – It Takes Only One

(5 out of 5 starfish, rated G)

By Perry S. Chen

May 12, 2011


We all know about deforestation, habitat loss, the ivory trade, and the illegal pet trade, but do you ever wonder what happens to the orphaned young of the animals ruthlessly slaughtered by humans? Instead of leaving the babies to perish by their dead mothers’ side, two brave women, Dr. Dame Daphne M. Sheldrick, co-founder of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and renowned primatologist Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas have been rescuing baby animals to give them a second chance at life in the last three decades.

The new G-rated Warner Brothers IMAX 3D film “Born to be Wild,” opened last month at some IMAX theaters.  I saw it twice, once at Edwards Mira Mesa, the second time at Fleet Science Center.  It will open tomorrow (May 13, 2011) at San Diego’s Reuben H. Fleet Science Center’s IMAX Dome theater.

The film is a joyful, moving tale about the fascinating lives of two extraordinary women and the precious lives they saved.  Daphne helps elephants orphaned after their parents were killed for their ivory tusks in Africa, and Biruté nurtures infant orangutans whose parents were victims of logging and deforestation in Indonesia, and help return them to the wild, where they belong. Narrated with the euphonious and resonant voice of Morgan Freeman, it would be very difficult to not like this film.

Perry Chen interviewing Dr. Birute Galdikas, star of "Born to be Wild" at Reuben H. Fleet Science Center (photo by Zhu Shen)

I am so happy to interview Dr. Biruté Galdikas in person when she appeared at a special screening at the Fleet Science Center on Mother’s Day May 8, 2011 to benefit the Orangutan Foundation that she founded:

Perry Chen at Born to be Wild special screening Fleet Center (photo by Zhu Shen)

I asked her what made her so passionate about orphaned orangutans.  “It’s their eyes,” she said, “Orangutans seem more human-like than other apes: the black in the center and the white around it.”

“Do you think it’s important to get kids involved in saving orangutans?” I asked her.  “Yes, kids are the future.  To get them involved is so important.  The best thing to do is volunteer, volunteer, and volunteer.  Kids can also adopt orangutans on our website.  They can ask their parents to stop buying products containing palm oil.”  She shared with the audience during Q&A that because palm plantation destroys orangutan’s natural habitat, we need to voice our support to protect orangutans by boycotting products made with palm oil, which is in about half of food products.  I always read food label at grocery stores, and will definitely look out for palm oil in the ingredients from now on.

Dr. Galdikas said she would like to see a sequel in a few years to follow the orangutans who returned to the wild.  A little girl asked if she slept with orangutans.  “Yes, I did, and my first husband really didn’t like that. Because whenever he gets close to me, the baby orangutans would bite him.  In the wild, the orangutans are solitary, so the infants are only with the mothers.  When a big other person gets in bed, they would get very very jealous.”

Perry Chen interviewing Jay Kay at Fleet Science Center (photo by Zhu Shen)

I asked John Kay, the rock musician from Steppenwolf band with the famous song “Born to be Wild,” how he became involved in the conservation movement.  He said he was very moved by the work of Dr. Galdikas and Daphne Sheldrick, and wanted to do something to contribute.

Perry Chen & mom Zhu Shen with Dr. Birute Galdikas holding Perry's foil art Orangutan (photo by Jeff Katz)

I made an orangutan tin foil sculpture for Dr. Galdikas because she is like the mother of all orangutan orphans.  She loved it and wrote a wonderful note to me and my mom.

Dr. Galdikas note to Perry Chen & Mom Zhu Shen

I give “Born to be Wild” 5 out of 5 starfish, it’s “Perrific!” This film highlights the most important parts of the sanctuaries, and makes the painstakingly difficult task of raising orphaned young look effortless.  But you can imagine the tremendous efforts it takes to do what Daphne and Biruté had achieved.  It took Daphne 28 years to perfect the elephant formula that the orphans now thrive on.  The film is deeply touching, including a scene when a keeper covers a baby elephant with blanket for the night and sleeps with him.  It is especially cute when the orangutans are hand-bathed while squealing contentedly.  One of the funniest scenes shows a pudgy baby orangutan waddling around guzzling milk from a bottle.  My new friend & fellow film critic David Pinson (who was sitting next to my mom and me) was so moved by an elephant scene at the end, that he cried.

I have loved animals since I was a baby, and the San Diego Zoo ( is one of my favorite places to visit, where I check out hummingbirds, pandas, sea lions, elephants, orangutans, etc., and draw them regularly.  Check my review of the San Diego Zoo:

I have created many tin foil animal sculptures in the past few years, including this African Elephant which is one of my favorites:

African Elephant Tin Foil Sculpture by Perry S. Chen (photo by Brian Bostrom)

Similar to what I said about “How to Train Your Dragon,” this film’s 3D and IMAX effects are so real that I gripped my seat. In some scenes I thought that a stampede of elephants would tear right through the screen, or my 3D glasses would get snatched by a mischievous orangutan dangling from a thick rain forest vine!  Watch the trailer and go see this “Perrific!” film with all your loved one today:

The two organizations’ websites are and On the first website, you can read their updates, and even adopt a baby elephant for as low as $50 a year! You get many more splendid benefits as well, like a log for their progress, free watercolors, and much more! The best part though, is the satisfaction that YOU are making a difference in the life of a REAL and WILD animal. In the second website, it shares interesting stories and updates on the baby orangutans whom you can adopt too ($50/yr or more). I sure hope you check out these fabulous sites and become a donor!  My mom and I will be adopting a baby elephant or orangutan soon after checking out online profile and photos here:

I will be sharing updates when we decide which one to adopt.  I hope many other children and their parents can adopt these orphaned animals too and make a positive difference.

Hillary Clinton once said, “It takes a village to raise a child,” but in this case, it takes just one determined individual to save countless lives, which is also the moral of “Born to be Wild.”

Copyright 2011 by Perry S. Chen.  All Rights Reserved.

Perry Chen and Zhu Shen wish to thank Jeff Katz (, a San Diego filmmaker for shooting videos during the interviews at the Fleet Science Center.  The videos will be available shortly and updated.


Perry S. Chen is a 11-year-old award-winning film critic & artist, actor, TV/radio personality, Annie Awards for Animation presenter, TEDx speaker,  filmmaker and animator.  He writes about movies for San Diego’s largest newspaper, the Union Tribune with over 1 million readers.  Perry is also the youngest columnist and entertainment critic for the San Diego Entertainer Magazine.  He also blogs for Animation World Network, the leading animation industry publication, and is the resident film critic for Amazing Kids! with about 1 million readers. (About Perry Chen)

Perry won the San Diego Press Club 2010 Excellence in Journalism Award, and is represented by Rebel Entertainment Partners, a talent agency in Hollywood; and Shamon Freitas Agency in San Diego.

Perry started writing movie reviews using his unique kids-friendly starfish rating system on his website ( ) as an 8-year-old third grader at San Diego’s Torrey Hills Elementary School from the Del Mar Union School District.

Perry became a national sensation when he debuted on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric in May 2009 as the youngest film critic in the country.  He was featured on National Public Radio (NPR) with host Liane Hansen in March 2010, and has reviewed over 50 movies and DVDs on a multi-media platform: TV, radio, print, and web.  He is the youngest member of the Asian American Journalist Association, the San Diego Press Club,  and the youngest honoree of Cox Communication Channel 4’s annul Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Perry reviews films on a kids-friendly starfish rating system, 5 being the best.  He was featured on “The Young Icons,” a nationally syndicated TV show on Nov 20, 2010, and on Variety as one of the most active young film critics in the country:

Perry’s reviews are available on his website:

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