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earth (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 29, 2009 by  



“A shortened version of the landmark documentary ‘Planet Earth’ but with newer footage.  Like its predecessor, the Blu-ray features amazing picture quality and amazing visuals captured from 204 locations in the seven continents.  Absolutely beautiful and a documentary with a message!”

Images courtesy of © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Earth

DURATION: 96 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD (48 kHz/24-bit), French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY:  BBC/Discovery Channel/DisneyNature/Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: G

Release Date: September 1, 2009

Written and Directed by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield

Executive Produced by Stefan Beiten, Don Hahn, Andre Sikojev and Nikolaus Weil

Producer: Sophokles Tasioulis, Alix Tidmarsh

Associated Produced by Melissa Caron, Michel Henrichs, Amanda Hill, Connie Nartonis Thompson

Series Producer: Alastair Fothergill

Music by George Fenton

Cinematography by Richard Brooks Burton, Mike Holding, Adam Ravetch, Andrew Shillabeer

Edited by Martin Elsbury, Vartan Nazarian

Starring:

Narrated by James Earl Jones

In the Arctic, a mother polar bear trailed by her two cubs searches for food as their icy hunting grounds melt away. A herd of African elephants slowly traverses the arid Kalahari Desert toward the water-rich Okavango Delta. A humpback whale and her calf make a 4,000-mile journey in an epic migration that takes them from tropical waters all the way to Antarctica. Remarkable high-definition footage follows these creatures and more to places human beings rarely see, capturing unique worlds populated by Mandarin ducks and birds of paradise, as well as a pride of lions and a vast caribou herd. Filled with surprising facts and extraordinary images, Earth is a dazzling portrait of life on our planet.

“earth”, a film by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield.  Their work is known from one of the most ambitious and remarkable nature-based documentaries ever created, “Planet Earth”.  “earth” is pretty much a much shortened version of “Planet Earth” but features new footage and focuses on survival of the polar bears, the elephants, lions, the whales and Great White shark and many creatures.

The film was released in theaters courtesy of Disney’s independent film label “Disneynature”, their first film and a film to highlight Earth Day (April 22nd).  The documentary was definitely a landmark project as it took 5 years to make, 45 camera people, 2000 days in the field, 204 locations, 62 countries in all seven continents.

What is remarkable about “Planet Earth” and “Earth” is its fantastic imagery.  Using HD cameras and the latest technology in cinema, viewers are able to experience tremendous images, some that look so unreal but are real.  In fact, no CG was ever used in the film.

Camera work in capturing nature’s food chain and capturing survival of these creatures (parents, no need to worry – there are no visual carnage taking place but the creatures trying to capture their prey) is incredible, as with the film’s editing.

Watch as the film kicks off in the Arctic as a mother polar bear emerges out of its hole with their two cubs while a male polar bear searches for food.  A herd of antelope and their young walking through the fields but then a group of wolves go after them, in order to find their food.  Or a group of elephants in the Kalahari Desert who walk near a pack of lions and the lions wait until nightfall to make their attack.  Images of nature of these creatures up-close in their natural habitat and all captured in film.

Although a lot of the “earth” focuses on the creatures trying to survive, there is an underlying message.  The message is how the animals are trying to adapt to their conditions and for some areas, those conditions continue to grow worse and of course, the underlying message that if this happening with the creatures, what about humankind?

The “earth” Blu-ray comes in two discs.  The first disc is the actual Blu-ray disc and the second is the DVD version of the film.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“earth” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1).  It’s important to note that “Planet Earth” is one of those Blu-ray releases that many people have felt are a must-own for picture quality.  Of course, I’m sure there are people who may feel it is way too expensive for them and too long for their tastes.  But with “Earth”, you do get the shortened version focusing on the creatures and a lot of that incredible imagery is included on this Blu-ray release.

The white arctic to the sand hills of the desert and the beautiful skies and ocean and the lush greenery from all over the world, the beautiful landscapes of those locations are captured on HD and looks amazing.  So, one can expect excellent picture quality.

The audio of “earth” is featured in English 5.1 DTS-HD (48 kHz/24-bit) and also in French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  The film is narrated by James Earl Jones (note: the UK version is narrated by Patrick Stewart) and for the most part, the film’s narration and beautiful music by George Fenton (“Bewitched”, “Hitched”, “Planet Earth”).

Narration and music are front and center channel-driven while certain sound effects such as the arctic and the ice breaking can be heard through the surrounds or the great white shark swallowing its prey.  But James Earl Jones vocals are clear and understandable.  Also, his narration is well-timed and never interferes during the film’s most awesome moments.

Subtitles for the film are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“earth” comes with the following special features:

  • Filmmaker Annotations – The following is an exclusive to the Blu-ray edition.  You can watch the film and read text with important facts and also see a picture-in-picture display of Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield talking.  It’s important to note that if your Blu-ray player’s audio is set at bitstream, you will need to change it to LPCM to hear the audio from the video picture-in-picture portion.
  • Earth Diaries – The Making of Earth the Movie – (42:30)  A documentary featuring Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield and crew discussing how they captured the various scenes in the film and how they utilized the latest of camera technology to capture 360 shots or the animals running at full speed.  An informative and intriguing documentary that shows us how challenging and ambitious this film was.  It’s absolutely amazing to watch this.

For the most part, “earth” is definitely a documentary that is visually amazing.  But it all comes down to what one would expect in a documentary.

Not long ago, there was a release called “HOME” that featured on how humans in different parts of the continent have destroyed their land, how global warming is affecting everyone, the loss of water and the number of fish decreasing and a message that was definitely clear about changes that needs to be done now.

“earth” is less preachy but it does have an underlying message that if the animals are trying to survive (and they have been on this planet way longer than us) with the changes in condition, shouldn’t humans learn from these animals and how the changes will affect us?

There is no doubt that “earth” is a visually remarkable film, but is it worth the double dip if you own “Planet Earth”?   For some, the additional, newer footage may be worth the double dip but if you are a big fan of the original, then it will definitely be worth it.

For those who have never owned “Planet Earth”, I recommend getting it, since it is such a landmark documentary  and for Blu-ray owners, it’s one of those reference titles showcasing amazing picture quality.  But for those who have no desire to watch 11 hours of a documentary and perhaps, not want to spend so much money can definitely enjoy this visual and intriguing documentary known as “earth”.

This Blu-ray captures the amazing picture quality of “Planet Earth” but in a shortened 90 minute version.  Still a visual treat for viewers and most of all, for those who never experienced “Planet Earth” will find “earth” still worth watching!






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