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Blu-ray Review: Earth

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This feature-length version of the BBC/Discovery Channel nature documentary television series Planet Earth follows three animal migration stories and related events across our planet. Filmmakers circle the globe by land, sea, and air while incorporating humor, drama and, predictably, some Disney references into each compelling story, cycling one complete year, without special effects. Narrated by James Earl Jones, the visuals often speak for themselves as audiences experience an amazing 90-minute journey which covers every continent and season.

Each story binds a strong objective narrative to the visuals throughout the film. Directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield team up with screenwriter Leslie Megahey for a strong screenplay. This film starts cold as filmmakers follow a year in the life of a polar bear family. The weather warms as the story progresses to African elephants amid lions and a mother and baby humpback whale that make a 4,000 mile migration. Standout sequences include Mount Everest aerial footage, a birds of paradise rain forest sequence, and a related segment where rushing water supports vast vegetation.

The amazing Earth shots from space represent the formidable budget, approximately 40 million, which gives filmmakers the resources for an amazing, comprehensive archive. The numerous time-lapse shots also incorporate some 360 degree rotation as filmmakers feature natural processes as much as animal activity. The high quality sound matches the visuals, especially in a rain forest sequence showing growing fungi and other skeletal  organisms. Impactful statistics include the 50% sustenance provided by the rain forests which only cover about 3% of the earth's surface. If filmmakers incorporated text, the film could have a faster pace, but they definitely shape an all ages experience. Be sure to watch the ending credits to see how cameramen achieved this breathtaking video.

Composer George Fenton creates a memorable music score and the editing  by Martin Elsbury and Vartan Nazarian keeps an even tone without any overextended scenes or staged scenarios.

The award-worthy cinematography utilizes HD cameras for incredibly vivid images from all seven continents presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1). The booming sound comes in English 5.1 DTS-HD (48 kHz/24-bit) plus French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles for the film are in English SDH, French, and Spanish. The picture-in-picture display and accompanying documentary features amaze as much as the film. The 43-minute "Making of Earth the Movie" featurette shows the directors and crew collaboration and special filming techniques.

This G-rated epic covers nature’s circle of life without the gore and political global environment issues. Beyond the filmmakers' work behind the camera, no human element is presented in the film. Audiences can definitely see how the animals are affected by the end, which prompts strong thought about the human element – what is known about the Earth and maybe repeated lessons being ignored. Essential entertainment and education for all ages. DVD version also available.

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  • Derrick

    Awesome. Loved this movie. Didn’t see the original television series, but now I want to.