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Earth
BLU-RAY disk
Sep 14, 2009 By: Jason Adams
Earth order
Director:
Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield

Actors:
James Earl Jones
Animals

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
From the Arctic to New Guinea to the depths of the ocean, get acquainted with some of the most diverse and fascinating wildlife we share with our planet.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I’m not one to watch the Discovery Channel on a regular basis, but 2006’s extraordinary documentary series PLANET EARTH had me glued to the screen in the same way that only great movies can. What was clearly years worth of work provided some truly incredible footage of the most unique and inspiring creatures and habitats from all reaches of the Earth. It was just amazing stuff that doubly kept you in awe trying to figure out how they shot it without resorting to special effects. (Some of the migration scenes are so massive they looked like they must’ve been cooked up by WETA.)

And though Disney Nature’s EARTH takes the same footage from the 11 hour series and edits it down in to a more friendly 90 minutes, it doesn’t make the footage any less fascinating to watch. Ever wanted to see 30 lions take down an elephant? A polar bear throw himself into a crowd of walruses? A great white shark eat a seal in terrifyingly slow slow-motion? You’re in luck! And it’s all better than the cute but overrated MARCH OF THE PENGUINS, even legitimately suspenseful in parts.

If you’ve seen the full PLANET EARTH, of course this condensed version does feel unnecessary and skimming the surface, but the smaller runtime does makes this an entertaining and informative film for children to get them interested in something other than cartoon violence. It’ll be easy for kids to connect to the family-centered stories presented (which means an abundance of footage of adorable baby animals). Just be warned that it isn’t all fun and light fluff. The filmmakers don’t mind show sad footage of animals dying or being led to their doom. Which brings me to my only gripe with EARTH: the overly preachy environmentalist message. They’re definitely not shy about rubbing your face in the scare of global warming, to the point where it almost feels like “Well, kids, the father of these cute polar bear cubs is going to die of hunger because your parents refuse to take public transportation.” One or two quick messages would get the point across, but the constant reiterating almost brings it in to the territory of Leo DiCaprio’s 11TH HOUR.

Then again, you gotta love a movie with James Earl Jones narrates a bird’s elaborate quest to get laid.
THE EXTRAS
The EARTH Diaries (42:30): This detailed making-of feature shows you exactly how much work went in to producing this film: 5 years, 240 locations and 40 camera teams. And it wasn’t a fun worldwide expedition. You really get a good idea of how these people sit around waiting weeks for a single show, and just how dangerous it was. (And yes, that includes some of the super cuddly animals, who still want to eat you.)

Filmmaker Annotations: This cool feature makes the most out of the Blu Ray format with picture in picture comments with some cool trivia and stories about key scenes, as well as behind the scenes footage and interviews.

The Blu-Ray also comes with the standard DVD, which also includes the Earth Diaries documentary, so you get the best of both worlds.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Obviously I would suggest checking out the full PLANET EARTH series from which Disney’s EARTH is culled, but this is still an enjoyable and entertaining condensed version that’s great for little kids not ready to watch an 11 hour series.

Extra Tidbit: This movie pointed out something that I found interesting enough to repeat. Whales, as mammals, also give off milk to their offspring. In fact, a baby whale will drink over 100 gallons of milk a day. To quote OMC, “how bizarre.”
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