Movie Review: ‘One Amazing Day’ Brings Planet Earth to the Big Screen
If you enjoyed last year’s BBC TV series Planet Earth II but felt it could use more fart jokes, you're in luck: the new feature-length film Earth: One Amazing Day has re-assembled footage from the beloved documentary and added a few extra bonuses for popcorn-munchers at the multiplex.
Planet Earth II was seen by an estimated 10 million viewers when first broadcast worldwide, and is currently rated the best TV show ever made by IMDb voters.
But there’s always room for improvement, so gone is the narration by David Attenborough (replaced by Robert Redford in the English-language version of the film), gone is the soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and other artists (whose work is replaced by Alex Heffes), and added are spiffy new audio effects via ADR.
Those include some unnoticeable whirrs during scenes like baby iguanas running away from racer snakes on the Galápagos Islands, some over-the-top bomb effects when water droplets fall towards bees that actually nicely enhance the visuals, and, in two successive sequences with bears and lions, juvenile fart noises intended to get an easy laugh.
Just to be sure, I compared footage of the bears to the original version in Planet Earth II. Indeed, over the same shot of the bear walking away after scratching himself on the trees, sound editors have replaced a grunt with a human-like fart effect.
I feel like that’s worth mentioning up front for viewers that have seen the series and, like me, might be thrown by the addition of the lowbrow stuff.
But here’s the thing: no amount of juvenalia on the soundtrack can detract from the what we’re seeing on the screen, which is some of the most breathtaking photography of our planet and its diverse inhabitants that has ever been filmed.
One Amazing Day also features scenes of a zebra foal making its way through rapid waters and lion attacks in Africa, pandas munching on bamboo and hummingbirds seeking out nectar, clouds of mayflies mating in Hungary during their single-day life-cycle, narwhals navigating maze-like passages of ice in the antarctic, hundreds of thousands of penguins braving crashing waves to bring food to their young, and giant blue whales resting vertically in the ocean.
And much more. And every sequence here is majestic to behold.
Seeing the footage in the cinema for the first time - and some of the footage here seemed to be new, or at least new to me - was almost a revelatory experience; in digital 4K at Prague’s Kino Světozor, the native resolution of the cameras used to capture the footage, there was a lifelike clarity to many of the sequences missing from the experience of watching it on the small screen.
A new “story” charts the course of a single day on Earth, with narration by Redford (and Ivan Trojan in the Czech version) patching together disparate scenes from across the globe. Invariably, we lose some of the depth and detail that went into creating the TV program, but in cinematic terms the new narrative is sufficient.
While one might wish for the six-hour David Attenborough version of Planet Earth II to hit cinemas, One Amazing Day is a good-enough substitution aimed at viewers with short attention spans. For the breathtaking visuals alone, it’s worth experiencing for those who have already seen the BBC series - though the alterations may prove distracting - but especially for new audiences coming in cold.
In Prague and throughout the Czech Republic, Earth: One Amazing Day is screening in both Czech and English language versions; more information about the local release here.