From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Earth - B+

Rated G, 90 minutes

What a wonderful..."Earth" - captivating and entertaining documentary perfect fit for Earth Day

The new Disney documentary "Earth" is a perfect treat for the green and non-green, making a great addition to Earth Day and one good thing you can do actually do indoors. Entertainingly filled with stunning, awe-inspiring footage, "Earth" isn't really new but a feature-length extension of the "Planet Earth" documentary series, and this film is really the first bookend on what could be a whole film encyclopedia on our wonderful world. This entry could also be called "Migration," as it spans the globe following the migration paths of three different animal families.

The Earth is on such an enormous scale-where would you actually begin to make a documentary? Documentary filmmakers Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield decided to begin looking at how animals migrate - for whatever reason - climate changes, sustenance, breeding - in various parts of the globe. The American version, narrated with familiar force by James Earl Jones, primarily looks at polar bears, elephants and whales, and take a few rabbit trails devoting secondary footage to other animals, such as geese, moose, ducks, lions, tigers, caribou, sharks - you name it. In the process they get some impossibly stunning, breathless footage in the process, from the depths of the oceans, to the icebergs to the Himalayas, they have their cameras positioned (and with a $40 million budget, the most expensive documentary ever) to capture the unexpected.

To name just a few of "Earth's" visually engaging scenes: the great white shark lunging and emerging out of the blue seas, the polar bear trekking across glaciers in desperate search for food, the elephants trekking over desolate dry lands for water. The more intense but highly entertaining and watchable scenes come when the documentary invariably (and in National Geographic mode) focus on the ways in which animals hunt each other for food. One truly breathless scene has a wolf chasing a young caribou for miles - and one of them invariably has to win out.

There's also the scene of the tiger chasing the deer and a stunning underwater scene with fish battling out for their lives. Though "Earth" is Rated G and suitable for everyone, these scenes may be a tad intense for the younger set, especially if they don't enjoy seeing animals get hurt (no worries, no graphic bloodshed is shown). Of course, if you want cute there's plenty of that too - from clumsy, young ducklings to those adorable young polar bear cubs - "awww" may be heard more than once.

As expected, "Earth" captures the beautiful, the breathless, the stunning (even the first doc to get footage atop Mt. Everest), but even with all that it seems a little incomplete, and it understandably leaves it open to many more of these (the series took about a dozen or so episodes). With over 4,000 hours under the filmmakers belt, expect it for future Earth Day's. "Earth" is highly recommended viewing for the whole family, though this entry is a bit intense for those under 6 or 7, and no worries, there are no heavy-handed political messages, just lots of animals, loads of pretty scenery, and absolutely no humans.

In honor of Earth Day, if you see the film this weekend, Disney will plant a tree in your honor. So get your green on and see "Earth" in captivating form this weekend.