MOVIE REVIEW: Earth: Lovely to Look At; Not So Delightful to Know!

Earth, the first release from the new arm of Disney, DisneyNature, may be the most beautifully shot film you will see all year – and James Earl Jones could make the phone book sound great. Unfortunately, the cinematography is really the only stellar part of the film.


The trailer for Earth says it follows three animal families. That’s only partially true. Besides the attention spent on the polar bear family, the elephant family and the whale family, we get detours to watch wolves stalk caribou, baboons having a problem with “waterfront property,” and penguins [which have their own, “built-in toboggans”]. The result is that, of the film’s ninety-six minutes, after digressions and credits, there’s about eighty minutes split between the three families – most of it on the elephants.

This means that there’s too much story to give any one group its due. The film would have been much better if it had focused on two families, or even just one. As it is, the storytelling is thin and hollow – though Jones sounds as wonderful as ever. About the only part of the story that works completely is the way the filmmakers point out how our ecology is changing

Other problems include the soundtrack, where the score is way too loud [seriously, it’s louder than the soundtrack for Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Stones concert film, Shine a Light – and that was not quiet!]. Then there’s the Dissociative Identity Disorder in the script, which can’t make up its mind whether the animals should be made to seem human-like, or not. The waffling here is kind of disturbing.

Then there’s the whole “circle of life” thing. We are told about the hazards that exist for these animals, but every time we get to the point where an animal is caught by a predator, the camera discreetly cuts away from that equally important part of said “circle.” If you’re going to deal with life in the wilds, then do it. Don’t back off the bad stuff. That’s kinda hypocritical – not to mention uninteresting.

If you decide to check out Earth, stay for the credits. That’s where the really interesting stuff happens – clips that show how some of the best shots were gotten – and some of the problems arising from the methods used in filming.

Final Grade: C

1 Comment

  1. I had equally uneasy feelings for the film. Although there were many times i was fighting tears for the incredible massive depiction of nature , real nature ll. I began to find myself debating stuff during the film. when they show the male bear dying. i was wondering why they didn't save this nearly extinct animal? here too is your declaration about why show only half nature. also i found they left a lot of information out. especially regarding the predators. they didn't for instance describe the fact that cheetahs only score maybe at best i in 20 tries. that they too were famished. some parts i have no idea about why it was shown. the significance about the cranes is lost. except they try to fly over the highest mountain range, well great, but why? why is the other side any better?
    the only thing that i learned was why whales slap their fins. now that was interesting. i agree that the film in of it's self is just stunning. but i tried to separate my human self and i found that i tried to shy away from it.i left the movie, discordant, (actually the same way i felt leaving 'wallee' animated movie).that we at one time had the power and very real threat to destroy the earth three times over.(so i heard as a kid) and i began to wonder if anyone truly understands what that means. the film, focused more on death then life.which i guess is the answer. or the drive of the message.the most dramatic scenes were death scenes. nothing about giving life.see that is what i left with. but, i digress, the cinematography is awesome.i have seen worse movies for less reason.

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