For fans of wildlife programmes, Earth will be nothing new - it is, after all, a re-cut version of the BBC series Planet Earth - but this is a wildlife film at the very top of its game. No shot is less than dazzling, most are beautiful and many are stunning. Astounding images of whales cavorting in the oceans, rivers crashing down mountain-height waterfalls, cherry trees blossoming in time-lapse and many other wonders are complimented admirably by the rich, authoritative tones of narrator Patrick Stewart.
Earth concentrates on a few animal characters in order to take us on a rough journey from the North to the South pole over a year. There's a polar bear family, with cute fluffy cubs sliding in the snow. A herd of Kalahari elephants trudge through a drought and lions to reach water, and a humpback whale and her calf journey halfway across the world. This focus helps add drama and, while the voiceover does occasionally veer into the pompous, it manages to steer clear of anthropomorphism. Plenty of other creatures get a cameo moment in the spotlight too - one bizarre bird-of-paradise dance makes a particularly memorable sequence.
"IMAGES OF THIS BRILLIANCE ARE NATURALLY UPLIFTING"
Depsite various deaths amongst the animals featured, Earth is a surprisingly bloodless experience, presumably to ensure family-friendliness. The camera always cuts away before the final bite, and there's not so much as a meaty bone to be seen. But despite this censorship of the nastier things in nature, there's a serious message overlaying the pretty pictures. The damage mankind is doing to the earth is made starkly clear. Still, gloomy message notwithstanding, images of this brilliance are naturally uplifting - and if this doesn't make it to IMAX, I'll eat my sustainable eco-hat.
Earth is out in the UK on 16th november 2007.