Apple TV+'s Prehistoric Planet Reviews Are In, See What Critics Are Saying About Jon Favreau's Dinosaur Docuseries

Dinosaurs on Prehistoric Planet.
(Image credit: Apple TV+)

We’re still a couple of weeks away from the release of dinosaur blockbuster Jurassic World Dominion, and while the final chapter of that trilogy promises mayhem of epic proportions, showing a world where dinosaurs live alongside humans, Apple TV+ and executive producer Jon Favreau hope their dino offering is equally as thrilling. Prehistoric Planet is a series a decade in the making and uses up-to-date palaeontological research that will portray dinosaurs like never before. Critics had the opportunity to screen the series ahead of its release for those with Apple TV+ subscriptions, so what are they saying about the new docuseries?

Moving Picture Company — known for 2016’s The Jungle Book and The Lion King (both also produced by Jon Favreau) — employed photorealistic CGI to bring the prehistoric beasts to life. Narrated by renowned nature documentary presenter David Attenborough, the series also features an original soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. So let’s travel back in time 66 million years and see what the critics think of Prehistoric Planet

Sarah Milner of SlashFilm rates the series 8 out of 10, calling the ultra-realistic CGI “breathtaking.” The attention to detail makes it easy for the audience to forget it’s not actual footage, and David Attenborough is a pro who can go from bemused to deadly serious with ease. There are, however, some minor annoyances with the scope and keeping track of what species were being shown and where in the world:

The thematic divisions were clever and worked well, demonstrating the prehistoric creatures in an ecology; however, the lines between what is speculative, what is certain, and what is creative license is really unclear — and that hurts the series as a pedagogical tool. Overall, it felt more geared towards entertainment than education.

Lucy Mangan of The Guardian rates it 4 out of 5 stars, saying the series awakened the critic’s inner 10-year-old dino-fan. But that inner child also has questions, much like the previous critic. How can a skull tell us what color a dinosaur was? When do facts turn into educated guesses that turn into imagination? This, however, did not detract from the wonder of the series:

There is no uncanny valley here. The beasts – large or small, parents or juveniles, flightless or soaring – created by Moving Picture Company, the special-effects experts behind the likes of The Lion King, Spider-Man: No Way Home and Blade Runner 2049, have made them look … real. I can say no more than that. You look at the screen and you see dinosaurs. You watch episode one and find yourself thinking: ‘Hang on. I’ve just seen dinosaurs. Near as dammit, they’ve just filmed a wildlife documentary in the Cretaceous period and I’ve watched it.’

Peter Martin of Everything But Horror can’t recommend Prehistoric Planet highly enough. The series took this critic back to his younger days of dinosaur fascination:

The dinosaurs and their varied landscapes come to life in a manner that feels quite realistic, to the point that I found myself wondering how they would deal with the ever-present dangers to their survival. Divided into episodes according to the landscapes that are depicted — ‘Coasts,’ ‘Deserts,’ ‘Freshwater,’ ‘Ice Worlds,’ and ‘Forests’ — an incredible array of dinosaurs are introduced, showing them in their natural habitat and relating how they dealt with the daily challenges they faced, which is fascinating to watch.

Brian Lowry of CNN says the series offers a look at dinosaurs in a way they’re not usually displayed, which he says is a good reminder of how the species actually lived, ahead of the upcoming sci-fi blockbuster Jurassic World Dominion.

If nothing else, there’s merit in presenting dinosaurs as what they were — not just giant beasts, but complex precursors to the animals roaming the natural world today — instead of the entertainment-driven emphasis on showing them chasing jeeps and eating lawyers. By portraying them as they lived in their own time, Prehistoric Planet serves as a welcome reminder that the pop-culture vision of dinosaurs that has become magnified in the rear-view mirror goes beyond just the stuff of science fiction.

Emma Stefansky of Thrillist says the series helps viewers close that incomprehensible gap between now and 66 million years ago by showing the Earth's Cretaceous Period not as something extraterrestrial, but rather not dissimilar to our world today:

Prehistoric Planet, and docuseries like it, are multipurpose. They are fun, diverting shows for those who just want to dip a toe into another world for a few hours, but they're also fascinating visualizations of the leaps and bounds that scientific knowledge of fossils has taken over the years, especially when viewed in conjunction with everything that came before.

If these reviews have you intrigued, Prehistoric Planet is now streaming on Apple TV+, with a new chapter of the five-part docuseries being released each night thereafter. See what other Apple TV shows you can get access to with a subscription, and don’t forget to check out our 2022 TV Schedule to see what new and returning shows are coming soon to TV and streaming.

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.