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Friday
Apr242009

Earth

Being the avid movie watcher that I am, I sometimes get too wrapped up in how well a movie is made and I tend to give a lot of credit to screenwriters who can deliver a captivating story to sustain me through an hour and a half. But then something like Earth comes along and reminds me that enchanting stories are all around us; we just aren't looking hard enough. Earth is blissful, a joyous celebration of life that absolutely needs to be seen.

Yes, this is basically a longer version of the hit show, "Planet Earth," but seeing it on the big screen is nothing short of astounding. It features stunning imagery so unreal you won't believe your eyes. When all you see in front of you are these mesmerizing shots of rarely seen parts of the world, you can't help but fall to your knees in astonishment. When you tack on a lovely score that perfectly accommodates the onscreen visuals, you get a sizable documentary that is perfect for anyone with an appreciation for nature.

Unfortunately, that's about as far as my accolades go because Earth is not a movie you can simply describe. It has to be seen. There are only so many ways you can say, "It was beautiful" before you start to grow stale. And indeed, it was a wonder to behold, but it isn't perfect.

The film is narrated by James Earl Jones and although he does a serviceable job, his speech tends to go on for too long. Like I said, the film is terrific to look at. Why ruin it with talking? Just let me watch and allow for the nature to sink in. Moments in this movie that would have otherwise been awe inspiring were ruined by the cutesy, sometimes gag worthy narration. I know it's cute. I don't need Darth Vader telling me that through condescending baby talk.

The movie was also disorganized, attempting to cover too much ground in its short 90 minute runtime. As the trailer suggests, we follow the lives of animals for a year, and that actually turns out to be its biggest problem. A year is a long time where many things happen that provide many opportunities to learn, but there is no focus. The film jumps from animal to animal and from place to place constantly, resulting in a scattershot delivery.

A good example of a nature film with a focus is March of the Penguins. That movie took one select group of wildlife and showed us the annual year long cycle in their lives, the good, the bad, the birth, and the death. You journeyed with them for that time period and when one of their babies froze to death, the film wasn't afraid to show you and you felt it emotionally. It was a grueling ride and you learned plenty along the way. Earth doesn't really teach so much as it simply follows. It gives you some facts here and there, but you never really gain a deep understanding of what these animals go through and why, only a basic knowledge.

The movie also doesn't always follow through on its purpose. It's a nature documentary, promising to show you the wonders of our planet, the good, the bad, and the in between, but rarely do you catch a glimpse of the darker side. Nature isn't always adorable. It's harsh and brutal, but death is mostly implied, rarely fleshed out.

The scale may seem weighed down on the negative side here, but truth be told, Earth is still a wonderful film. The only real thing it has going for it are its aesthetics, but that is its purpose and it works. It is dazzling in its beauty and delightful in its simplicity. Earth is easily recommendable.

Earth receives 4/5

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