It takes three things to make a decent nature documentary and here they are: fresh eye-popping nature footage, great narration, and a compelling musical score. Of those three things, earth has exactly none of them. Instead Disney has recycled footage you’ve already seen in the acclaimed (and fairly wonderful) television miniseries Planet Earth, spliced it together in the most haphazard fashion imaginable, and then attempted to make it all stick by hiring a much past his prime James Earl Jones to read half-thought out narration which seems as if it was originally intended for Ryan Seacrest. Have it all scored by the world’s most apathetic orchestra and then settle in for a nap, because you’ve just been unlucky enough to buy a ticket for earth, a big screen nature documentary so lazy it couldn’t even manage a capital letter.
Were it merely that earth recycles old footage from Planet Earth that might be forgivable. At least then I could recommend it for people who haven’t seen Planet Earth and want to get a feature length, condensed version to see what all the fuss is about. But it’s the way in which earth presents that recycled data that makes it so unforgivable. There’s no real thought put into it, no coherent plan for how to present it. One minute they’re wrapping it in the mantle of animals and their families and how they fit into the environment, the next we’re sitting through a fifteen minute sequence on waterfalls.
The film starts with polar bears and seems as if it’s attempting to organize our cinematic globe hopping by hemisphere, as the narration takes us south. That doesn’t last and soon the movie’s jumped somewhere else entirely, and starts making a case that no, it’s all about the seasons. Wait no, it’s not about the seasons instead we’re going to see the planet through the lens of the migration of a humpback whale… oh wait back to those polar bears that one looks like he’s dying… but the whales which are on the other side of the planet and are in no way connected to the polar bear are just fine except for their proximity to sharks. Oh look, a shark who has nothing to do with the whales! Hey it’s December let’s watch the leaves change.
earth is a disaster, a real killer for Disney’s fledging DisneyNature division. I can’t imagine what they were thinking by releasing this shit. There’s nothing here for anyone. Even the Planet Earth footage, which seemed pretty spectacular on television in HD, is rendered mostly inert here by lackluster presentation and James Earl Jones’ persistent, poorly written narration. The film isn’t even educational; it’s far too disjointed to convey any meaning. If they were going to repurpose a bunch of old nature footage we’ve already seen, then they should have jazzed it up with a gimmick. Toss in some 3D or at least write a decent script for it. As it is earth is the most boring, unbearable 90 minutes I’ve spent in a theater this year, and I sat through Street Fighter. If nature’s what you crave, you’ll have more fun sitting on your porch and watching mosquitoes impact with a bug zapper.
Reviewed By: Josh Tyler