April 23, 2009


So long, and thanks for all the fish

Grade: B

Directors: Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield

Starring: James Earl Jones (Narrator)

MPAA Rating: G

Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

In keeping with its pro-eco bent, footage for the handsome documentary Earth is recycled from Planet Earth, the popular 2005 BBC series last seen in the DVD collections of those looking to give their new high-definition televisions a test drive. The spectacular, sometimes poetic new film traverses the globe, from Arctic stem to Antarctic stern, interspersing its visual grandeur with a muted ecological message that informs the real-world consequences of climate change.

At a blissfully brief 96 minutes, the film fades to black before monotony – and James Earl Jones’ stentorian narration – has the chance to take root, although several locales, notably the Amazon rainforest, merited more illumination. The attempt to craft narrative continuity fails simply because the ever-shifting settings do not allow the film to sufficiently flesh out any one story, a la March of the Penguins. And, the picturesque photography would look better in sparkling HD or immense IMAX than through the incandescent flicker of your neighborhood movie theater.

Still, the stunning imagery is certain to make Hollywood visual F/X techs green with envy, and for all the sweeping vistas and oceanic exploration, no moments are more jaw-dropping than the slow-motion footage – accompanied by George Fenton’s classical composition – of a cheetah and great white shark pursuing their prey. Now, that’s reality entertainment.

Neil Morris

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