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Planet Earth II (Blu-ray Review)

27 Mar, 2017 By: John Latchem

Street 3/28/17
$35.99 DVD, $44.95 Blu-ray, $49.99 UHD BD
Not rated.
Narrated by David Attenborough.

The hallmark of the “Planet Earth” series has always been the spectacular photography, delivering video that has to be seen to be believed. What’s evident from some of the behind-the-scenes footage in Planet Earth II is that it isn’t necessarily the equipment that brings about this footage (though the “Planet Earth” team’s is state of the art), but an abundance of patience and perseverance.

In the “Cities” episode, for example, camera operators bonded with urbanized monkeys so they could move freely among them as the simians raided the town for food.

Another hallmark of the “Planet Earth” brand is the way it frames the harsh realities of life in nature, with animals always in search of food to hold off starvation, and fighting among themselves to obtain what the other has.

The first Planet Earth from 2006 seemed a little more brutal in this regard. One of that show’s signature shots, after all, was a shark breaching from the ocean to snatch a sea lion (a sequence many of my co-workers at the time found to be rather disturbing).

Planet Earth II is full of predators hunting prey, but more than a few of the prey manage to get away, which must come as no small relief to younger viewers.

The footage collected is, unsurprisingly, remarkable, with many behaviors captured on film for the first time, some through the use of special night-vision lenses, and more stunning uses of high-definition and time-lapse.

You’ll see leopards pouncing on pigs in Mumbai, bats stalking scorpions in the desert and catfish in Europe eating pigeons that swoop by the water for a drink.

There’s some jaw-dropping footage of a pack of lions hunting a giraffe. But for my money the most memorable clip comes in the first episode, “Islands,” as newborn marine iguanas run for safety across an empty beach that is quickly filled with hundreds of racer snakes that have been hiding, waiting for a chance to strike.

Some other footage revisits animals seen in the original Planet Earth, but from different angles and with new twists.

The Blu-ray includes six episodes, each devoted to a different environment, with a 10-minute production diary attached to the end of each episode (the featurettes are on a separate disc on the 4K UHD version).

About the Author: John Latchem

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