On August 18, 2009, I purchased my first Blu-Ray player, a nifty little Samsung from Costco. On August 19, I went on a vacation into the wilderness of Wisconsin and Michigan. On September 1, I returned and watched my first Blu-Ray movie, the most-fitting Earth, from DisneyNature.
Earth, a retooling of the amazingly popular BBC documentary "Planet Earth," is a 90-minute, James Earl Jones-narrated tale of how the Earth is interconnected in more ways in one. It begins in the winter in the Arctic as a polar bear teaches its two cubs how to walk and then sets out to find food, and slowly moves south, exploring such Earth-related subjects as wolves, trees, water systems, jungles, elephants, lions, whales and penguins.
Earth, shot in high definition, is an absolutely beautiful film, one deserving of my first Blu-Ray title. The slow-motion shots are incredibly detailed and engaging, especially those involving hunts. A long scene of a wolf chasing an antelope is particularly enthralling, and another of a great white shark jumping out of the water with a seal in its mouth is absolutely jaw-dropping.
Jones delivers fine narration, but how could he not? He has one of the most captivating voices in Hollywood, and thankfully keeps things simple - and at times humorous.
Nevertheless, I've never had a ton of patience for nature documentaries. The scenery and animal life is gorgeous, and as a result it's hard to draw your eyes from the screen, but Earth does drag a bit after a while. There's nothing wrong with the picture, but it's not for everyone; if you like nature documentaries, you'll love Earth; and if you don't, well... you'll just like it.
The Blu-Ray set also includes the DVD version, so if you do end up purchasing the film, you might as well get this version. Unfortunately, there is very little in the way of bonus features; the 45-minute making-of featurette is interesting but not incredible. The Blu-Ray version also includes filmmaker annotations.
Earth is a scenic and visually mesmerizing documentary that will appeal to children and parents alike, but unlike the quote on the cover, which says it's "better than March of the Penguins," it is not nearly as entertaining as that popular film.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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