Monday, August 31, 2009

Discovering Disneynature's earth

earth, the initial offering of the Disneynature imprint, is truly a True-Life Adventure for the 21st century. It successfully marries the charm and wonder of Walt Disney's mid-20th century groundbreaking nature documentaries with current filmmaking techniques and innovations.

I unfortunately missed earth when it premiered in movie theaters this past spring. But happily, the just released Blu-ray Disc provides a in-home experience to rival just about any theatrical venue.

A joint production of Disney, Discovery Channel and the BBC, earth successfully distills footage from the acclaimed television series Planet Earth into an entertaining ninety minutes that in many ways distinctly brings to mind the film's True-Life predecessors. James Earl Jones provides a narration that is immediately reminiscent of Winston Hibler, the very memorable voice behind the original True-Life Adventure series. Like Hibler before him, Jones effectively injects enough charm and humor into his efforts to insure the interest of even the youngest of the film's viewers. By loosely following the travels of three separate mother-offspring animal sets (polar bears, humpback whales and elephants), the film provides a degree of storytelling connectivity both entertaining and necessary.

Visually, earth is spectacular to say the least. It is the perfect showcase for Blu-ray technology and high definition televisions. Especially impressive are the filmmakers' uses of aerial photography and time-lapse effects that, in a high definition presentation, are simply breathtaking.

Disc special features include a making-of feature and an interesting, but still somewhat insubstantial interactive menu screen that can be enhanced and updated by means of internet connectivity.

Though the film is essentially an abridgment of the Planet Earth series, it can effectively stand on its own merits, or otherwise serve as an introduction to that clearly more extensive production. It is a laudable beginning to the Disneynature brand and a worthy successor to Disney's True-Life Adventure legacy.

4 comments:

Cory Gross said...

I'll say it distinctly echoes the True-Life Adventures... the early segments in the Arctic are almost identical to scenes from White Wilderness. It's all the stranger that it was put together from the BBC's footage anyways.

Anonymous said...

Earth is a bit sad, though.

A baby elephant gets lost from its herd and we are told it is heading in the wrong direction across the desert. Nothing more is said or done about this little fellow, but it is clearly implied that he is doomed.

The male polar bear, supposedly the father to the two cubs we see at the beginning of Earth, is off hunting for food for his family. After a desperate effort to take down a walrus, we see the father polar bear collapse on the frozen ground where it is assumed he will die from starvation, never to see his family again. I can tell you as a father of two boys, that really cheered me up - NOT.

So yes, Earth is beautiful to look at, but be ready for some less than cheering moments. Please spare me any comments about life being cold and cruel and that I should get over it.

Disney presents Earth as a celebration of life, but there is plenty of death in it too. It may go over some of the kids' heads, but the parents who see this film will know the harsh reality.

Scott Osborne said...

Unfortunately, I too missed it in theatres. But, I am looking forward to purchasing this tonight. And, from Jeff's article, I think I'll finally break down and buy Blu-ray. Maybe for Christmas, I'll get an actual player. Along the TLA thread, I posted some vintage TLA comic dailies on my blog from 1955. I hope you take a look.

Dad.. said...

I can't believe I still haven't seen this yet. Will have to put it on my Netflix list.

Great site. You've got some AWESOME stuff here!!