Earth / Disneynature : 4 of 5
My pal Melinda is really lucky with getting tickets to sneak previews, and we were able to see this new Disney-distributed nature film a full two weeks before its release (it comes out on Earth Day next week)! When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I thought it was cool to see Disney associated with something similar to the old True Life Adventures series, but of course the quality of what can be accomplished now is much more spectacular. Earth is simply shot after shot of moments that make you wonder two things: first, how in the heck did they film that, and second, do I actually live on this planet? There are so many breathtaking views, including some awesome lime-lapse work, that it just seems like our big blue marble is a never-ending world of beauty, all made possible by that magical tilt of the Earth's axis. The movie is narrated by James Earl Jones (which is a nice connection to The Lion King), with just the right amount of detail - nothing is over-explained, and even though topics like global warming are mentioned, there's no preaching, which allows you to just be astounded at the life all around us (which is a better method of ecological argument than any heavy-handed documentary). The story loosely follows three families of polar bears, elephants, and whales, and does a nice job of characterizing them without getting too anthropomorphic. Of course, there has to be death scenes in a movie like this, but they are presented without much blood and in such a way that the circle of life actually becomes something natural (and there's only one shark scene that I didn't watch!). I could go on and on about incredible scenes (such as a lion attack shot in night-vision), and some of them are explained by a little behind-the-scenes footage of the filmmakers during the credits (they even suspensed a camera platform from a hot air balloon!). I'm definitely going to consider getting Earth on DVD to go along with my other True Life Adventures!