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DVD Review: Earth (2009)

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Written by Fantasma el Rey

Disneynature is the United States distributor for the fascinating earth, a companion piece to the 2006 television series Planet Earth. Using state-of-the-art technology and a skilled staff, the shots of animals and landscapes appear flawless, timeless, and as if a camera and man were never around to follow them as they migrate from place to place while James Earl James narrates.

Earth features many animals in their native lands, but it is three families that the spotlight shines on the most. The first are polar bears, a mother and her playful cubs as well as a look at the father. The father is off on his own hunting a meal while the mother looks after her cubs and tries to provide for them as she ensures their survival. There are some wonderful shots as they emerge from their den and the young get their footing on a slippery slope. We watch as they hunt the fragile, frozen-over bays, looking for the first meal after the long winter. These hunting grounds on frozen water begin to dissolve faster each year which is the real danger to their survival. There is a tragic, yet beautifully shot scene of the father desperately swimming to find solid ground.

Next, a mother elephant and her calf face dust storms, exhaustion, and lions as they head to summer watering holes. It’s a harsh life and the cameras stay focused as the blinding dust swirls and the lions pounce. With some great aerial shots, we can watch as the mother and calf push on after they have become separated from the herd and take days to catch up. Also caught on film here are other hunters such as the cheetah, who uses its speed to run down a gazelle.

The last family portrait is that of a mother humpback whale and her calf as they head to warmer water and plentiful feeding areas to spend the season. We get a good look at the way the whale “traps” its food as they force shrimp up toward the surface in a circle allowing the whale to glide through, mouth open, and scoop up its meal. There is some nice underwater footage and a nice shot of a great white shark as it lunges up through the water to nab a seal in its massive jaws.

All along the way the cameras caught many others images, including some great planetary shots from space. Monkeys and exotic birds doing crazy dances are brought to us in all their unique glory. Flowers in bloom and changing landscapes are breathtaking and shown through time-lapse photography as they change from season to season. We watch as snow melts to provide massive waterfalls in a scope and fashion not seen this clearly before. Special cameras that move in all directions with the flick of a switch were mounted to helicopters to make this film even better. The latest in multi-image capturing cameras where also employed to snap shots of speedy land creatures as well as high-breeching, quick-diving, massive sea beasts.

The Blu-ray disc contains “exclusive filmmaker annotations” while both Blu-ray and DVD include the 45-minute making of documentary “Earth Diaries,” a good look at how the film was made but may give away a bit too much of its “Hollywood magic” tricks as at times its revealed that some scenes of animals may not be the same family that we are lead to believe we are following. The Blu-ray is presented in 1080p, with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and 5.1 DTS HD sound.

Earth is good and entertaining with some humorous moments along with tragic ones. There are lots of scenes with youngsters being picked off by predators but that is the way life goes and we forget that some times being removed from those primitive dangers. The overall message is clear that we may never be able to see these creatures in this form again as their native lands are being lost for whatever reasons, be it man, man-made destruction, or simply our Earth going though another one of its own changes.

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