April 25, 2009

Earth (4/25/09)

Lettergrade: C+

When I started visiting Disneyland more regularly as an adult, one of the things I really grew to like about the place was that they still showed some of the crazy film experiments that Walt spent a lot of time and money developing in the 50s and 60s. Processes like "CircleVision" - where five cameras were arranged on a circular rig and then projected back that way so you could "look" in every direction - were still being shown daily in their CircleVision theater, despite the fact that only four films, all travel documentaries, were ever made that way.

A newish distribution arm of the Walt Disney company called "Disney Nature" is now devoted to trying to feed more material like that out into cinemas, and I'm glad that they're doing so.

About 70% of Earth was taken from BBC's fantastic Planet Earth series, along with much of the bludgeoning-but-excellent score by George Fenton. New to this version is voice-over by James Earl Jones (replacing the long version's Richard Attenbourough). Sometimes Jones sounds like a psychotic man fueled by booze and crank who takes delightful relish in the deaths of some of the on-screen animals (which happens surprisingly often), but for the most part he's good, so why the hell not?

Nevertheless, I'm one who likes it whenever speciality type pictures like this get broad releases and actually wind up making some money. I'd say check it out if you can.

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