Disney Nature’s Earth (2009)
The kind folks at the newly established Disney Nature division want to make sure those who missed out on the stunning 2006 Discovery Channel/BBC miniseries Planet Earth get another chance. Earth is a re-edited, recycled version of the globe-trotting miniseries, cutting down 8 hours to a bladder-friendly 95 minutes. Disney has given the film a family-friendly narrative, following the exploits of three families; a mamma polar bear and her cubs, a whale and offspring, and an elephant and its little thundering toddlers (note to parents: the film doesn’t shy away from death but you won’t watch any onscreen kills). The footage is jaw-dropping and to witness it on the big screen is a must-see. The mini-series, and by extension the new movie, is a powerful advertisement for conservation without having to get on-message or preachy. The gorgeous images speak volumes. The filmmakers spent over 5 years compiling mass amounts of footage, and some cameramen sat in isolated and harsh conditions for a year in order to snap rare moments on film. While the film cannot rival the mini-series, it’s still a highly watchable experience with eye-popping visuals and, really, little else. It serves as a tasty appetizer for the larger main course, the immersive and riveting Planet Earth mini-series. But hey, there is something God-like about listening to James Earl Jones detail the particulars of life on this spinning blue orb. Earth is mostly spectacle but ho boy, is it first-rate spectacle.
Nate’s Grade: A-