Posted in: Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on April 1st, 2011
Our Planet is a merging of a large handful of documentaries that originally aired on the History Channel. Here they are packaged together to thematically display the “Past, Present, and Future of Earth.”
HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE
This film traverses billions of years at a time as it details significant event after significant in the literal molding of Earth, from being a lifeless rock, through the shifting of the land masses and bodies of waters, to being the vibrant, thriving planet it is today. As the Earth’s history is described we are offered several other fascinating details on the formations of canyons, dinosaurs and, mountains and other Earthy phenomena that exist in epic scales.
The sciences described in this documentary, such as Plate Tectonics, that were used to discover just how old the Earth really is are astonishingly young, some developing as recently as the 1960s. As each science is revealed to the audience, the facts they uncover become perpetually more interesting.
A deeply researched and well composed documentary. A treat for science and history geeks.
A GLOBAL WARNING
This acts as a companion piece to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth (Gore is referenced right at the beginning of the film), offering several pieces of scientific evidence that global warming is a true threat to our entire species and planet.
Following the hypothesis that the human race could face extinction, several scientific explanations are proposed for how we might be in danger. Many are related back to the largest mass extinction known to us, the extermination of 94% of the active species in the time of the dinosaurs. Be it green house gas, methane escaping the ocean floor or permafrost, or volcanoes or some other natural occurrence that will obliterate us, we are given detailed descriptions of the hypothetical hows and whys of what might occur, and how much of a chance we have to withstand it.
So long as you don’t have a panic attack watching this, it is fascinating and well told.
LIFE AFTER PEOPLE
Taking a hypothesis to the utmost extreme, this film takes on the question of what would happen if humans disappeared?
Scientists and civil engineers work hard to detail what would happen to both the animal populace and our man-made monuments. In doing so, the filmmakers do get a bit cheesy with the effects (both sound and visual) in their presentation but all can be forgiven since it is all a big, fun “what if?” scenario anyhow.
Some very interesting facts are backed by even more interesting real world examples of nature’s effect on abandoned cities and buildings, as well as a few fun screwball possibilities that are included simply for laughs, such as cats evolving into flying animals, and zoo animals ruling cities. Things can get a bit repetitive as the deconstruction of different buildings is described over and over, it remains pure fun with some true science to back it.
1.33:1. The frame may seem reduced on larger TVs in order to maintain a clear picture quality, but not so much that it might be worth complaining about. All in all, things look very good.
Dolby Digital Stereo. The sound is very clear, though it is mostly just sound effects and narration. Simple, but the quality is there.
Inside the Volcano: An entire film about volcanoes. This easily could have been presented as its own special, but acts here as a bonus. Just as well assembled as the main features.
Additional Scenes: All three discs, one for each film, has its own set of additional scenes. The majority of these are more than just mere cut scenes, as they are fully developed and presented as their own segments. There are far too many to list here individually, just be rest assured that each disc offers many and each are interesting in their own right.
Disc 3 includes a making of featurette as well.
I originally thought this would be a single feature, turned out to be a rather dense set of material to behold. A plethora for fans of the History Channel, and armchair historians/scientists.