Mr. Movie

'EARTH' provides return to great Disney tradition

Warning to parents: Though it is rated G and you don’t see blood and gore, EARTH does have what could be an uncomfortable and violent moment or two. Do take your young children, do take the entire family. Just be prepared.

Disneynature is Walt Disney Studios new nature arm. It wants the press to publish the title EARTH in all caps. Exposure to the wild kingdom in generous gasp-producing gulps, with never-before-seen definition and on a 40-foot or bigger screen, it deserves the emphasis.

You may click here to visit the Disney site for the official trailer.

EARTH is a magnificent welcome back to what used to be a Disney tradition. A couple of times a year in the 1950s and early 60s, Walt Disney would give us something from the desert, the jungle or the forest and usually narrated by cowboy actor Rex Allen.

Clever writing, cute animals and comic moments made them very popular. Most were film No. 2 on a twin bill. When the double feature went away, so did the documentaries.

A couple of decades later, the expansion of cable television and animal/science channels of all varieties has jump-started the imagination of the American TV watcher. The save-the-environment and "go green" emphasis of the past few years has given us a new appreciation of nature.

So has the technology we use to produce nature films. Our ability to get close-ups of animals from long distance as well as the sky and technology-filled bunkers improve how you and I get to see them. We now have cameras — as is seen in EARTH—so finely tuned that you can see the individual hairs on the face of a bear from a medium distance.

There are purists who saw the 11 segment Discovery Channel series playing scofflaw and complaining about Disney recycling its better parts into the movie EARTH. I have wwo words for them: 40 feet. On a big screen EARTH is not-to-be-missed stunning.

With the pulse-pounding rhythm of a hypnotic soundtrack and James Earl Jones’ equally mesmerizing narration, EARTH opens with a dazzling scene of the planet from space and then flits around the globe to give us equally astonishing shots of animals in survival mode and at play. There are also scenic waterfalls done from angles that nearly give you vertigo, along with shots of meadows, flowers and forests and much, much more.

The most dramatic footage belongs to a great white shark leaping from the sea and doing a slow-motion ballet while feeding on seals.

As one mind-boggling scene tops another, you begin to ask yourself, “How did they possibly get those shots?” You learn a little bit of how in EARTH’s outtakes at movie’s end. If there is a flaw, it is in the roll of the credits. After seeing the how, I find I didn’t really want to know.

I prefer to be left speechless. So will you.

Added note: Did you attend the special promotional screening of EARTH last Thursday night? What was your impression?

Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars

Rated G but does have some mature themes. It opens Wednesday, April 22 at Regal’s Columbia Mall 8 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.