Review: Deep in the Heart

Score: B

Director: Ben Masters

Running Time: 101 Minutes

Rated: PG

Wildlife in the Lone Star State gets the loving documentary in Deep in the Heart. The new documentary is Texan to its core: Directed by Texas A&M graduate and SXSW award-winner Ben Masters and narrated by Matthew McConaughey. It covers every square inch of the state from the panhandle to the Gulf Coast. What it doesn't do is anything new or innovative with the nature doc.

Each section of the film, which traverses the massive state, follows the same the outline: A wild species used to roam this area, but hunting, wastefulness and climate change decimated the population. The animals have returned, but still need to be protected. It's important to know the history to properly witness the majesty of the creatures running (or swimming) free, but it gets a little repetitive given the film's length. In an ideal scenario, this would be a 45-minute film that would play at science museums and IMAX theaters throughout the state. In its current form, it's a bit much.

But the reason to see the film is its stunning cinematography. Skip Hobbie – a veteran of National Geographic specials – and his camera crew capture stunning shots of snow-covered plains, majestic rock formations and flowing rivers. And of course they get those great shots of predators stalking their prey.

The score by Noah Sorota is one of the best of the year. And of course hearing McConaughey talk about the state's natural beauty – with the occasional shot at Oklahoma – is basically ASMR. But there's nothing here you haven't seen before, at least conceptually. Still, this is essential viewing for any Texan, or any fan of nature documentaries.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.