Of course, I'm kidding. What can anyone say negative about "Earth", the newest film from Disney, launching their DisneyNature brand, and co-produced by Discovery and BBC?
The film contains gorgeous photography showing a handful of animals across the planet. Moving in a more or less sensical fashion across the globe, we start by watching a family of polar bears in the North Pole. Mama and her two cubs venture out of their hibernation and we watch as the two cubs take their first steps across the frozen ice. I defy even the most hard\-hearted individual to not find these cubs adorable. With the success of "March of the Penguins", it must be required to include footage of cute baby animals in any nature film released. But as James Earl Jones' grave voice intones "One of these cubs will most likely not live through the year". Oh, oh. Then the footage picks up their father who is treading across increasingly thin ice to find food. Whether or not these animals are related (and I don't see how the filmmakers could know this) is beyond the point. The filmmakers are trying to tell a story and craft it in such a way as to reach their core audience, families with kids.
The filmmaker's camera crew begins to journey around the globe capturing amazing shots of huge flocks of birds migrating across the oceans, baby birds taking their first flights, an elephant herd roaming across the savannah. And much more.
Throughout, Jones' gravelly, authoritative voice cues in to give us snippets of information, identifying the animals and telling us a little bit about them. Jones has the sort of voice that you instantly think everything he says is fact.
The footage the filmmakers have managed to capture is really quite stunning. We watch as a group of wolves hunt a pack of caribou and then chase one of the herd's fawns. Of course, since this is a Disney film, just as the wolf overtakes his prey, the film cuts away. They aren't going to go so far as to show the death of the prey. That would be too upsetting for the kids. They also use some aerial footage of Mount Everest, using special planes provided by the Tibetan Army. And amazing footage of humpback whales. And cute footage of a bird doing a sort of mating dance. And… And…
My one small complaint about the film would be that the trailers announced we would be following three families over the course of their struggle to survive. The film introduces us to three 'families', but after spending a few minutes with them, we move on to a new subject. The polar bears are the only creatures we revisit during the course of the film. And the film doesn't really show us the hard stuff, the difficult material. I understand there are a lot of kids in the audience, but I think it is necessary to see animals die to understand the whole cycle of life. They also need to see the effects of global warming in an effort to make some of them more responsible citizens of our planet.
The same people behind the Discovery Channel series "Planet Earth" make "Earth" and if the series contains the same types of amazing images, I will be checking it out as well.