- Star Trek, $75.20M
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine, $26.40M
- Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, $10.25M
- Obsessed, $6.56M
- 17 Again, $4.23M
- Next Day Air, $4.11M
- The Soloist, $3.94M
- Monsters vs. Aliens, $3.26M
- Earth, $2.66M
- Hannah Montana: The Movie, $2.19M
Image: © Paramount Pictures
- Obsessed, $28.61M
- 17 Again, $11.51M
- Fighting, $11.02M
- The Soloist, $9.71M
- Earth, $8.82M
- Monsters vs. Aliens, $8.52M
- State of Play, $6.84M
- Hannah Montana: The Movie, $6.43M
- Fast & Furious, $6.20M
- Crank: High Voltage, $2.61M ((Read my interview with Clifton Collins, Jr.)
Photo Credit: 2009 Screen Gems, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo by Suzanne Tenner
If you’re old enough to remember “The Wonderful World of Disney,” which used to air every Sunday night and featured the likes of “Charlie the Lonesome Cougar” and other furry and feathered friends, then you’ll get a kick out of “Earth.”
Disney is resurrecting the concept of documenting animals in the wild (or maybe they never stopped). There’s another feature film coming in 2010 called “Oceans.”
The trailer for “Earth” said the movie would follow the lives and migration paths of four animal families, and I guess it did. I saw it with my two kids – 11 and 14 – and we came out of the theater going, “Ok, now which were the four families they followed?” The reason is because while it did focus on specific families, there was a lot of content about the other animals and plant life in the family’s particular region of the world.
At any rate, we finally figured out that the four families are: polar bears, elephants, whales, and … ok, that’s only three. Mixed among the footage of these families are storks flying above the Himalayas, ducklings leaping from their nest to learn how to fly, and birds of paradise flaunting their colors during mating season.
So even if the core families aren’t clearly defined, the photography is stunning, like forests magically turning from bare limbs to green leaves to autumn colors and back to bare limbs again, thanks to the magic of time-lapse photography. Breathtaking waterfalls in the jungle, magnificent ice floes in the arctic, and probably my favorite scene – a Great White Shark leaping above the ocean and grabbing some poor sea creature, all in slow-motion. You can’t look at something like that and not be awestruck.
But make no mistake that this film is definitely “Disneyfied” — the anthropomorphic tendency of Disney to instill human emotions in wildlife. And if you’re the least bit irritated by the “circle of life” concept (yeah, we know it’s out there, but do we need to be hit over the head with it at every turn?), then maybe wait for the DVD and watch it on mute.
In fact, the version we saw featured James Earl Jones as narrator (Patrick Stewart narrated the BBC/Discovery Channel series on which this film is based), and he even used the phrase “circle of life” at one point, which sort of made me go, oh good grief.
Aside from the shark scene and overall photography of the film, my favorite part was the end credits, where we saw a glimpse of “how they did it.” Two of the filmmakers climbed into a hot air balloon with their cameras in Africa and ended up getting caught in a tree, then nearly attacked by a polar bear in the Arctic. I’m guessing maybe they’ll have more of that on the DVD as bonus features.
In general, though, “Earth” is an interesting movie for kids of all ages. I wondered if my kids would be bored, but they seemed genuinely interested. Also, it’s rated G, so there’s nothing too objectionable here. There’s a scene where it appears that an animal will die, animals get separated from their herd, and a cat of prey pounces on a springbok. Carcasses don’t get ripped to shreds or anything.
Image Credits: copyright BBC Worldwide Ltd., All rights reserved.