Earth (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

As High Definition television and video becomes more dominant in our everyday lives, it’s highly likely that we’ll start to look at things just a bit differently. I mean, odds are I’ll never find myself in the South Pole (or was it North?) in -80 degree temperatures looking at penguins. But, I can watch “March of the Penguins” in the comfort of my living room and feel like I’m right there. The same can be said for “Earth”, a new documentary made up from some of the extra footage from “Planet Earth”. “Earth” is the first feature-length film from Disney’s new studio called, aptly enough, DisneyNature. DisneyNature is …”a Disney independent film label dedicated to bringing high impact wildlife and environmental films to theaters.” Admittedly, “Earth” is a bit of a different is a bit of a different animal, pardon the pun, in which it follows three different “families” over the course of a year. So while other documentaries will have you salivating at the pristine video, “Earth” has somewhat of a story involved.

As with most documentaries there’s really no linear plot and the aforementioned “families” include elephants, whales and polar bears. Naturally the “cuteness factor” is off the charts when looking at a baby polar bear or elephant (the whales didn’t really do it for me, sorry) but we see very quickly that life isn’t that easy for these three groups. Nature is brutal and though the documentary steers away from any violent attacks, it is inferred. The movie is rated “G”, but I think some of the younger crowd might be a bit scared at some of the scenes. Narrated by the one and only James Earl Jones (there’s a British version narrated by Patrick Stewart and a German narrated by Ulrich Tukur), he gives a feeling of warmth and security throughout. Documentaries on nature are hit and miss and if you’ve seen “Planet Earth”, odds are that this isn’t anything too new. The focus is more concentrated for a more family-oriented film, but if you like to see what your HDTV is capable of – tune in.

Video: How does it look?

Ok, this is what it’s all about. “Earth” comes to Blu-ray in a 1.78:1 AVC HD transfer that is, quite simply, one of the finest examples of live action I’ve ever seen. The images are so crystal clear that you feel like you can reach out and touch what’s being shown. Every minute detail is visible from the tiniest creatures on the ocean floor to the birds in the trees. Words almost aren’t enough to describe how incredible this picture really is. The Blu-ray version comes with a DVD as well and if you reallly want to see the difference between standard DVD and Blu-ray, there’s no better time than with this disc.

Audio: How does it sound?

A DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is included and it sounds good, though I think it’s a bit of a overkill. Surrounds come into play on several occasions but most of the “meat” of the soundtrack is from the center channel where James Earl Jones’ booming voice narrates the documentary. There are some chases that bring some of the LFE to the surface, but by and large this mix is relegated to the front stage. Though not nearly as impressive as the video, this uncompressed track isn’t that bad either.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Unfortunately “Earth” is a bit lax on the supplements. The Blu-ray does come with a DVD copy of the movie and only two featurettes are included. The first are some notes by the filmmakers and the next is a little more robust “Earth Diaries: The Making of ‘Earth’ The Movie. We get some interviews with the crew members who filmed the movie as well as the sheer scope of the project as a whole.

Disc Scores