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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Review

In honour of Earth Day, Disney•Nature's first film Earth opened today. Our reviews are here below. Happy Earth Day!

Earth - A Disney•Nature Release


Opens: April 22nd, 2009

Rated G

Running time: 90 minutes

Alastair Fothergill (dir.)

Mark Linfield (dir.)

Narrated by James Earl Jones

Original Music Composed and Conducted by George Fenton

Images © BBC Worldwide Ltd. All rights reserved.

Our reviews below:


Earth Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Earth is the first film under the new DisneyNature label. The movie has beautiful visuals and a sweeping, epic score. Part of what makes Earth so special is the way the camera intimately follows the animals, getting up close and personal. We’ve seen this type of footage before, but never quite like this.

While most of the footage comes from the BBC miniseries Planet Earth, this is a 90 minute edited version, that never shows blood and isn’t too scary for kids of any age. So this works just fine for those who don’t have time, or are to young to watch the miniseries.

While never directly addressing the effects of climate change, it is still powerful and gets it’s point across just as well. Because of this fact it may not be Oscar bait, but it is definitely crowd pleasing. Earth makes us appreciate the beautiful planet on which we live and that is the best thing you could want from this type of documentary. One of the only things that would have made this more spectacular is if it had been in IMAX.

Any excuse to see this kind of thing on the big screen is a good one. Besides, you can’t go wrong with Mandarin Ducks learning how to fly, or exotic jungle birds doing a mating dance. Go see it at a theatre and make sure you stay right through the end credits for an inside look at what the camera crew went through to get these images.


Earth Review By Erin V.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Disney•Nature’s maiden voyage Earth is stunningly spectacular to look at, and provides a window into parts of the world that most of us would not be able to see in real life.

Our planet is beautifully made, and seeing this is like watching footage taken of some of the most beautiful works of art in the world. Seeing all of the birds of paradise, many of them too unusual for us to have ever imagined. Then there are the familiar images that we never tire of seeing. Polar bear cubs taking their first steps across the ice, penguins sliding on their bellies, caribou and the wolves which hunt them, and elephants trying to cross the desert to find water and the lions they encounter also looking for that same water. There are also the slightly more unusual images that we don’t always see, such as Southern humpback whales traveling to Antarctica in search of krill to catch in a bubble net, great white sharks catching seals with a clear leap out of the water, a giraffe wading through a flooded plain, and a lynx hiding in the far reaches of the North, near the end of the tree line, and far to many more to name here.

This is a wonderfully made documentary that is edited in such a way that the whole family can watch and enjoy it. Some younger children may be slightly frightened in the chase scenes between predator and prey, although it is cut before any animals are actually killed, so no blood is shown. I look forward to next year’s edition to the Disney•Nature platform, Oceans, which promises to be as spectacular to look at as this first edition, Earth. I can’t wait to see dolphins on the big screen.

Be sure to stay during the credits, which gives an interesting little look into some of the challenges faced while filming the footage used. And as a end note, a fact that I found interesting about this documentary from IMDB’s-trivia-page, is that this is the first production ever to shoot aerial shots of Mount Everest. Unique access to a Nepalese Army plane enabled them to shoot the first aerials ever. The reason why it can’t be done with helicopters is because of the altitude, and it can’t be done with jet planes because they are too fast to get the proper shots they needed.


Earth Review By Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

Disney Nature’s first documentary is a beautiful fusion of panoramic visuals and a magnificent score by George Fenton.

The movie begins in the Arctic tundra, following a mother polar bear and her two adorable cubs. We follow their story, as well as see other Arctic wildlife, such as the predator/prey relationship between caribou and Arctic wolves. We see footage of the boreal forests, and catch a glimpse of an elusive lynx. We also see a little brood of Mandarin ducklings “fall with style” into the soft fallen leaves of a broadleaf deciduous forest. The film shows various courting displays of birds of paradise in Papua New Guinea which was fascinating to watch. We also watch elephant families make a perilous journey across an African desert, as they try to reach the fertile flood plains. Here, they face hungry loin prides. We also see a cheetah catch a gazelle, as well as the dry land come to life when the floods come. Here we see a baboon troop wade though the water. This was fun to see. We also see rivers meet the sea, which leads into footage of humpback whales, and their journey to the Antarctic, in search of krill. We see the beautiful ocean world that the wales occupy, as well as the frozen Antarctic home of the penguins. The film comes back to the Arctic, and we see the tragic effect that climate change has on a male polar bear. This really makes us think about how our actions affect animals. We finally see the baby cubs grown up, and thriving, and we marvel at both the fragility and resilience of wildlife.

Earth is a beautiful celebration of the magnificent planet we live on. Despite seeing the hardships animals face, this movie is still G rated enough for families, as the footage of animal predation are tightly cut, so no blood is seen. As a wildlife artist, I found the footage of animals, as well as the scenery, absolutely breathtaking. It is too bad this movie was not in IMAX.

I also loved how the score fit the visuals perfectly. Another thing that is interesting is that there are no people during the film. Earth is one movie that everyone should see. (Make sure you stay till the end of the credits, to see the filmmakers filming the footage.)


Earth Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Seeing the movie ‘Earth’ on Earth Day was a nice way to celebrate our beautiful planet. I hadn’t seen the BBC Planet Earth series, so this movie was a fresh experience for me.

The footage in this film is absolutely beautiful. Earth opens in the Arctic with a Mother polar bear and her two cubs. The narrator, (James Earl Jones), introduces us to these adorable cubs and to the idea that climate changes effect their chances of survival. The narrator takes us on a journey through the seasons with the help of nicely shot time lapse photography and through other parts of the world including the rainforest, Africa, and Antarctica. The narrator’s tine throughout is low-key and often humourous. The narration is matched by a very pleasant musical score by George Fenton.

It seems to me the focus of this film is on the absolute beauty in nature. Even the scenes of animals hunting other animals are tightly edited so the graphic reality is minimized. I can’t say this is a bad thing. Sometimes just allowing the viewer an opportunity to visually experience a wide range of amazing animals and scenery is enough to generate appreciation of the beauty of this planet. Appreciation leads to concern and concern to action. The message about climate change comes across in this film in a quiet manner. Earth is a really nice way to introduce kids to the planet they call home. If you can’t get out to a theatre, check out the Planet Earth series on DVD.


Earth Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Disneynature is the company releasing Earth on Earthday. With its frozen Magic Mountain logo, it is the 21st century counterpart to the True-Life Adventures that ran in theatres and on television from 1948 to 1960. By the way, the trailer for next year’s Earthday feature Oceans (shown before Earth in theatres and available on Apple trailers) has clips from this series introduced by Walt Disney himself. Earth is in fact taken from the series Planet Earth co-produced by the BBC, Discovery Channel and Greenlight Media of Germany. Oceans will be co-produced by the French, presumably the Cousteau people who have done marine documentaries forever.

Compared to the original series, Earth is edited to be family-friendly, cutting away the gory bits and simplifying the language slightly, narrated by James Earl Jones. It takes the viewer from the arctic to the antarctic and from one winter to the next, for a nice overview of the major ecosystems–tundra, taiga, deciduous forest, grassland, mountain, desert, rainforest and marine. Moreover the film’s website provides lots of educational materials for students of all ages. Filmed over five years and taking advantage of the latest digital technology the land-based, aerial and underwater footage was spectacular throughout. High-definition slow-motion (captured at 1000 frames/second), infrared photography for nighttime scenes, and time-lapse cleverly combined with a slow pan were all used effectively.

While the film highlights three families–polar bears, elephants and whales, 42 species in all are shown in their various environments. The lush musical score by George Fenton was recorded by the Berlin Philharmonic. During the closing credits some interesting footage of the various film crews is shown, such as the hot-air balloon with the cameraman hanging from a chair getting caught in a baobab tree. As a retired science teacher, I found this to be an excellent introduction to the subject.


Images © BBC Worldwide Ltd. All rights reserved.


Consensus: Earth is a spectacular look at this planet which we call home. G rated, this is a nature documentary that the whole family can go out and enjoy. ***1/4 (Out of 4)

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