Toon Talk: Earth - Apr 24, 2009

Toon Talk: Earth
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by Kirby Holt (archives)
April 24, 2009
Kirby reviews the first release from Disney's new Disneynature label Earth.
Toon Talk: Disney Film and DVD Reviews
by Kirby C. Holt

(c) Disney


MPAA Rating: G

What a Wonderful World

This past Wednesday (Earth Day, naturally), Walt Disney Studios launched the new film label �Disneynature�, the mission of which is to bring high quality, family-friendly nature documentaries back to the big screen. Considering the popular and critical success of such recent examples of the genre as Winged Migration and March of the Penguins, it is not surprising that the Mouse House would want to get back in the business that they themselves pioneered some sixty years ago with the legendary True-Life Adventures. And with Earth, the first of the planned annual releases under the Disneynature banner, that legacy has been reborn.

Culled from footage gathered for the award-winning Planet Earth television series, Earth is filled with innumerable instances of breath-taking, jaw-dropping beauty. The crystal-clear images -- captured through the use of high tech, high def cameras and skillful photography -- never fail to amaze the viewer with the wonders of this planet of ours. Truly, superlatives do not do justice to what you see and experience while watching this film, especially if you see it in a theater with state of the art digital projection and surround sound systems.

Naturally, in our Inconvenient Truth times, pro-environmental themes are woven into Earth�s narrative, but never heavy-handedly so. The bulk of the film centers on a �year in the life� of three animal families -- polar bears, African elephants and humpback whales -- and we see the direct impact that global warming and other ecological issues have on their daily survival. As would be expected, not all their stories end happily, yet the filmmakers (led by directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield) handle these �circle of life� moments accordingly. Obviously, violence is a fact of life in nature, and of course is witnessed here, although never graphically, in keeping with the film�s family-centered purpose.

(And speaking of the �circle of life�, James Earl Jones (The Lion King Mufasa himself) speaks the film�s narration in Earth�s American release, replacing Patrick Stewart from the original British version.)

While composer George Fenton mostly avoids the musical �Mickey Mouseing� that often trivialized certain aspects of the True-Life Adventures, one throw-back to the old days remains: the need to �villain-ize� such predators as wolves and cheetahs. A curious tactic, since one of the film�s �heroes�, the father polar bear, is seen hunting seals and walruses.

Nevertheless, Earth remains an inspiring (both awe- and otherwise) documentary film that proves that when it comes to special effects, no one does it better than Mother Nature.

Toon Talk Rating: A-

Coming Soon:

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-- Kirby C. Holt
-- Logos by William C. Searcy, Magic Bear Graphics

Kirby is a lifelong Disney fan and film buff. He is also an avid list maker and chronic ellipsis user ... In addition to his Toon Talk reviews, Kirby is the creator of Movie Dearest, a blog for movie fans.

Took Talk: Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt is posted whenever there's something new to review.

The opinions expressed by our Kirby C. Holt, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the future plans of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.

-- Posted April 24, 2009
-- Kirby C. Holt