I unfortunately missed earth when it premiered in movie theaters this past spring. But happily, the just released Blu-ray Disc provides a in-home experience to rival just about any theatrical venue.
A joint production of Disney, Discovery Channel and the BBC, earth successfully distills footage from the acclaimed television series Planet Earth into an entertaining ninety minutes that in many ways distinctly brings to mind the film's True-Life predecessors. James Earl Jones provides a narration that is immediately reminiscent of Winston Hibler, the very memorable voice behind the original True-Life Adventure series. Like Hibler before him, Jones effectively injects enough charm and humor into his efforts to insure the interest of even the youngest of the film's viewers. By loosely following the travels of three separate mother-offspring animal sets (polar bears, humpback whales and elephants), the film provides a degree of storytelling connectivity both entertaining and necessary.
Visually, earth is spectacular to say the least. It is the perfect showcase for Blu-ray technology and high definition televisions. Especially impressive are the filmmakers' uses of aerial photography and time-lapse effects that, in a high definition presentation, are simply breathtaking.
Disc special features include a making-of feature and an interesting, but still somewhat insubstantial interactive menu screen that can be enhanced and updated by means of internet connectivity.
Though the film is essentially an abridgment of the Planet Earth series, it can effectively stand on its own merits, or otherwise serve as an introduction to that clearly more extensive production. It is a laudable beginning to the Disneynature brand and a worthy successor to Disney's True-Life Adventure legacy.