Earth (Blu-ray Review)27 Aug, 2009 By: John Latchem
Box Office $32 million,
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray,
Narrated by James Earl Jones.
The first movie released under the new DisneyNature brand, Earth is basically a theatrical reworking of BBC’s Planet Earth mega-documentary.
What’s new is narration by James Earl Jones that packages some of the most memorable moments from the show into a compact 90-minute storyline about a year in the life of three animal families — polar bears, elephants and humpback whales.
The narrative isn’t particularly interesting in light of the original context (some lines are just taken word for word from Planet Earth). Ultimately, the pictures speak for themselves. The photography is among the most stunning nature footage ever achieved, which is why Planet Earth is one of the bestselling Blu-ray Discs of all time, despite its hefty multidisc price tag.
Earth does offer a conveniently condensed version for families and younger viewers. Much of the more gruesome video from the show has been toned down. The reality of nature is still portrayed as harsh, just not as violent.
The most intriguing aspect of the Earth Blu-ray is its sharp “Living Menu” system. Players connected to the Internet can see a display of time and weather information next to a globe containing seven “hot spots” offering up-to-date information about different areas of the planet (they change every month).
Both the Blu-ray and DVD contain a behind-the-scenes featurette that in many ways is more engaging than the movie, providing details about the various HD camera technologies used to make the film, and the weeks of patience it took the cameramen to obtain just a few seconds of valuable video.
The Blu-ray also has a picture-in-picture commentary about the process of crafting a narrative from all the footage.