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maryann johanson, ruining movies since 1997

Earth (review)

It’s not that this lovely-to-look-at nature documentary is bad: it’s just that it’s completely redundant as a film. Adapted from the 11-part BBC nature series Planet Earth — which has been available on DVD for eons — it feels as truncated as it is, cut down in an unforgivable fashion from the grand, sweeping story of our planet that much-longer version told into something staccato and disjointed. I thought, as the film opened with winter at the North Pole, that it was going to move us through a full year of life on our planet (much as the far superior Winged Migration did), and it does indeed appear to take that tack for the first few sequences, moving on to stop-motion spring in bloom in the subarctic forests, baby birds learning to fly, newborn polar bears greeting the world, and other bits of utterly adorable sweetness and beauty that anyone who loves our home will appreciate. But then it forgets the frame it appears to have taken, and no matter how riveting individual moments may feel — I’m a total sucker for images of the Earth from space, and there are many of those here; and the sequence featuring lions and elephants battling for supremacy at an African watering hole at night is, in itself, astonishing — concerns about the cohesiveness of the movie as a movie are never given any credence. It feels very much like what it is: bits and pieces from a larger whole. (And if the polar-bear stuff isn’t the same exact footage that was used to tell an actually cohesive story about our planet and the necessity of our being diligent in our stewardship of it that Arctic Tale told, it’s so similar as to make no difference.) I’ll be honest here, though: this did inspire me to finally purchase the DVD set of Planet Earth [Region 1] [Region 2]. If you feel compelled to see this, know that you will probably leave with an urge to see the real thing as well. Whether that’s a good thing — or whether you feel like you paid multiplex prices for an overlong trailer — is your decision to make.


MPAA: rated G

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
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