Rating: 4 Pulses
Starring: James Earl Jones, animals
Directed by Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield
Every week at the local cineplex moviegoers have the option of seeing a multitude of different genres. There’s horror, drama, romance, action, road movie, teen sex comedy, etc. What if there was one movie that encapsulated all of these genres? What if you could take your kids to see it?
The new Disneynature production Earth is just that film. Earth is the Discovery Channel-style documentary depicting the lifestyles and migratory habits of the myriad non-human denizens of the third planet. Epically narrated by Darth Vader on Prozac (James Earl Jones), Earth explores the almost Sisyphean struggle of Earth’s creatures against Mother Nature’s unforgiving seasonal changes. Jones’ god-like baritone personifies these animals’ journeys in a child-like and engaging manner, rarely veering towards over-simplification with a leftist bent.
Despite these tenancies, who wouldn’t smile watching polar bear cubs clumsily slide down a snowy mountainside, not yet able to grasp the concept of legs? Or ducklings taking a belly-flop plunge from their nest into a pile of dead leaves, fearless and therefore unharmed? There are so many amazing beings inhabiting this floating orb as to negate the relevance of science fiction. The rain forest?housing nearly a third of the planet’s life?is, I swear, teaming with aliens. The Birds of Paradise are like a George Lucas creation, looking more at home in the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine than on our boring planet.
However, there is also a tragic element involving a mama elephant and her calf, and a father polar bear hunting for food amidst the melting ice floes. It is only here when the film stumbles slightly, interjecting an unnecessary message that would make Al Gore proud. Whether you believe humans are negatively affecting the Earth’s environment or not, the narrative allusions to this possibility only serve to detract from Earth’s overall theme of the awe-inspiring nature of, well, nature.
Otherwise, Earth is the best action flick (slo-mo cheetah and slo-mo shark, dig it), the saddest drama (damn elephants), the scariest horror film (lions in the night!), and funniest comedy (gotta lose your virginity before prom, aye Birds o’ Paradise?) to come out in theaters this year. Despite all this, however, the best part of the entire film still comes from the sole human character: J. E. Jones saying, “Get down, baby!”