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Earth
(Blu-ray)

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: G

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Narrated by: James Earl Jones

Written by: Leslie Megahey, Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield

Directed by: Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $39.99

Features: Filmmaker Annotations, Earth Diaries

Specs: 1.78:1 Widescreen 1080p High Defintion, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selection (12 Scenes)

Released: August 18th, 2009

 

 

"Earth" is presented in 1080p high definition, with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. This is a beautiful looking documentary that seems to have been made for Blu-ray. The visual splendor is a real treat, so much that your eyeballs might feel a bit overwhelmed at times. The level of detail though is phenomenal: be it the fur on the animals, or all that you can see in the exciting wide angle shots of the ocean, the arctic and of Africa. The amount of depth to the image is just as staggering; the film-like image has a three-dimensional quality that makes you you want to reach out and touch everything that appears. Color saturation also impresses, as the wide variety of color palettes flourish boldly. The pure snow whites, sandy yellows of Africa and stark ocean blues are so lavishly captured. Everything on view in this transfer is crisp and clean, and often astounding. This is pretty much reference quality, and a fantastic show piece for anyone with a decent home theater set up. Prepare to drop your jaws a few times. 

 

"Earth" features a 5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio track. This is an excellent sonic experience that enchances the viewing experience. George Fenton's musical score can be pretty sweeping at times and has a nice amount of depth, but it's never overwhelming. James Earl Jones's booming narration, on the other hand, always sounds firm and centered. But it's the wide array of recorded sound effects that capture the various environments and really pulls you in — it's hard not to feel surrounded by the animals and settings at times, as if you're actually there. Be it the waterfalls pouring, caribou migrating or the sounds of polar bear cubs — it's all natural and sounds incredibly rich. Use of the rears and fronts is always engaging, fidelity is high, and dynamic range is quite good. Subwoofer use is also fitting and satisfying, but not earth-shattering. A solid audio presentation overall that really captures a variety of ambiences.

A French Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 track are also included, as are subtitles in English, French and Spanish. 

 





Exclusive to this Blu-ray edition is Filmmaker Annotations. Throughout the movie, additional information and clips from the filmmakers pop up, offering some insights about what's on screen.

Also included (and on the standard DVD as well) is Earth Diaries. Divided into 11 chapters (including credits) and running about 42 minutes, this is a pretty extensive look at the film's production. It's also somewhat exhausting to learn how many people took to shoot the footage, its production period (over 2000 days) and all the countries that were visited. Directors Alastair Fothergrill and Mark Linfield bring insight onto this massive production, but mainly a narrator breaks down some insane logistics (technical and otherwise) in what it was like to shoot all the separate animals/stories that make up the documentary. With that noted, much of this piece features the filmmakers and production crew shooting, and gives a unique look to what's essentially a documentary about making a documentary. There's a lot to take in here, and it's astounding how the production got their shots as well as dealt with things beyond their control (such as extreme weather, and even illness). Serious but not overly dry, and always interesting, this is a compelling look at the making of "Earth" and worth a view for all those who enjoyed the movie.

Finally, this combo pack includes a standard DVD copy of the movie.
 
 

For a nature documentary, "Earth" was a pretty successful venture for Disney — and there's more films in this vein under their new DisneyNature banner ("Oceans" is the next one, set for 2010). While those familiar with previous BBC/Discovery Channel co-productions may notice a lot of previously seen footage, this is still a pretty enthralling piece of work for adults and kids alike. The extras are a little on the slim side, but the presentation is top-notch and does justice for such a gorgeous looking movie. A rental is recommended at the least.