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Blu-ray Review: One Life

Everyone knows that we only have one life to live on this planet, before giving way to the natural cycle. But how often do we stop and remember that human beings are not the only creatures to which that adage applies? What does this mean to the various animals that inhabit the globe with us? Now on a Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet combo pack in a special Earth Day edition, BBC Earth’s One Life attempts to answer that question.

One Life is an 85-minute look at various species and their triumphant survival, despite the hazards and challenges that they face. Taken from footage shot for another, much longer series, Life, One Life chronicles creatures from their own birth until they create the next generation, who will do it all over again. This isn’t an easy process for many, and we’ll see what it takes for them to thrive, and the surprising ingenuity that they possess.

Among the animals shown in this special are snow monkeys, pebble toads, grassland ants, cheetahs, Komodo dragons, and more, around twenty in all. An attempt is made to build a connection between each of the various segments, making us realize that all life is the same, and we share a number of characteristics. At this, One Life mostly succeeds.

The disappointing thing is, if you’ve seen Life already, there’s not much new here. It is mainly recycled footage, repackaged into a new release. It’s a much shorter running time, to be sure, and each segment is quite a bit quicker than the original it was taken from, and so more easily digestible for the casual viewer. But for those die-hards who eagerly anticipate and pour over each new BBC Earth release, this will probably fall short of expectations.

Similarly, the narration is a shadow of the earlier version. As pleasing as Daniel Craig may be here, David Attenborough is the master, and certainly missed. Again, those who aren’t big fans of the genre will probably appreciate what’s present just fine, but the frequent BBC Earth viewer will probably be disappointed.

As for the visual and audio quality, is it absolutely fantastic. Just like Life, this was shot in high definition, and so makes true use of the detail and depth Blu-ray can provide. The colors are rich, the blacks are layered, the soundtrack is well mixed, and there is little evidence of static in either sound or picture. While there is a bit of inconsistency, mostly owed to differing equipment used throughout the process, the overall flow is very, very good, and much has been done to downplay any weakness.

Thankfully, even if the scenes of One Life itself aren’t new, the extras on this disc are. We get a directors’ commentary from Michael Gunton and Martha Holmes, a twenty minute “Making of,” half an hour of some behind-the scenes stuff, a look at recording the score, a few unused shots, and about an hour of interviews, including a ten minute one with Gunton that is only on the Blu-ray disc, not the DVD. It’s a lot, more than the feature itself, and all of it does add to the content, being extremely relevant and interesting, and is appreciated, making this release worth checking out.

A lot of work went into making Life, and it’s understandable that BBC Earth would want to make as much use of the product as possible. And, as mentioned, One Life is great for the novice who is dipping their toe into the documentary water, or just wants to spend a single evening with a nature special. So it definitely has its place and purpose, even if it isn’t for everyone.

One Life is available now.

About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com