Tag: Planet Earth

Planet Earth 2: Episode 6 ‘Cities’ Review – Catfished

Planet Earth 2: Episode 6 ‘Cities’ Review – Catfished

Planet Earth 2: Episode Six recap

The final episode of Planet Earth 2, ‘Cities’, featured incredible starling displays, a bird who didn’t know what he was letting himself in for and kleptomaniac monkeys.

As we zoomed out from the huge globe before the screen was emblazoned by the familiar opening credits for the final time, I felt a pang of sadness.

Not just because it meant I’d likely be stuck recapping something like the Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas special, but also because it signalled the end of one of the best series on television this year.

We have already been treated to the sublime (iguana chases and eagle flights) to the hilarious (dancing bears and flying lizards), but the last episode had a few more tricks up its sleeve.

The visual highlight is undoubtedly the dazzling formations of the starling birds, which gracefully moved across the sky like an aerial lava lamp. The spectacle was breathtaking as millions of flying creatures cascaded around each other over Rome in a sight that must rival the Northern Lights in person.

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Image taken from http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0861m8b/planet-earth-ii-6-cities

The crew’s determination to get the best shots continued with a night-time scene of a leopard hunting pigs. The audience was treated to a night-vision view as the big cat stalked the porky families and made off with their babies in a scene sure to emotionally scar some viewers.

There was even a little excitement as the pigs incredibly gave chase – if a leopard came at me late at night you can be sure I’d flee the scene and use loved ones nearby as a human shield to aid my escape.

As mentioned above, no episode of this series would be complete without a little comic relief, and we certainly got that with the bowerbird. Animals attracting mates has been a staple of the series so far, and it looked as though Jack Bower had finally cracked it as he decorated his ‘lad-pad’ with shiny objects and attracted what he thought was a mate – until he realised it was another chap who hadn’t yet developed his plumage. Catfished.

We move from figurative to literal catfish as we saw pigeons being dragged under by the water-dwelling beasts (any of those around the Midlands and our ‘chicken’ places may go out go business). There was plenty more entertainment on show, from a raccoon playing crystal maze to get some dinner to crafty Rhesus Macaque monkeys terrorising a local market.

There was another tense struggle of baby animals facing a deadly world for the first time. I watched from between my hands as a turtle hatchling navigated a horror-journey into a city after mistaking the lights for the city. It tugged the heartstrings to see it travel to what it thought was the sea, and the show came full-circle as we saw crabs – the creatures I felt most sorry for in episode one – ruthlessly hunt the baby turtles before they had even arrived at a road full of deadly obstacles.

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The final word from David Attenborough himself was sobering. We’d seen incredible clips of animals and humans living side-by-side, with the latter even feeding monkeys and coyotes in scenes that would seem alien in a number of UK cities. We were shown the way forward in cooperating with out furry, winged or insect friends in some natural-urban cities in Singapore. His message was clear – we need to follow suit and furnish our planet carefully so as not to destroy their homes so we can continue to live together.

It was a sombre but important message to end a superb series on for which the crew deserve full credit. If things carry on as they are however, we will end up losing the stars of the show who have really made Planet Earth 2 so great – the animals themselves.

Feature image taken from Planet Earth II –  Cities available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0861m8b/planet-earth-ii-6-cities.

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Planet Earth 2: Episode 4 Review – Just Deserts

Planet Earth 2: Episode 4 Review – Just Deserts

Planet Earth 2: Episode 4 Recap

This week’s review of Planet Earth II features stallion warfare, an adorable golden mole and ‘Giraffe vs Lion: The Reckoning.’

This week’s edition of Planet Earth II seemed desperate to raise the stakes when it comes to cinematic openings as a barren landscape was engulfed by a giant killer candy floss.

Wait a minute, it was a sandstorm? Oh deserts, not desserts. There goes my other pitch to Syfy.

Unlike my intro however, Deserts got straight to the point. After last week’s episode failed to deliver the standout moment everyone would use for memes on Facebook, Attenborough and co provided us with the perfect GIF for someone to post ‘Me on Black Friday’ as we witnessed a galloping giraffe trample a lion primed for attack.

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Image taken from http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b084ftll/planet-earth-ii-4-deserts

The reason this segment was so interesting wasn’t just in the pursuit (and the surprising speed giraffes apparently reach when it hits the fan), but in the way it subverted the side the viewer usually cheers on.

Prior to this episode I was fully prepared to cheer on a giraffe as it undertook a lion-slaying spree through the desert, but when it was explained the lions had to cover roughly the area of SWITZERLAND to find a meal and had been starving for three days already, I kind of backed them instead. Especially as the kind of guy who gets annoyed at walking half a mile for a 3am McDonalds.

This seemed to be the theme for much of the episode. I found myself backing the bat taking on a deadly scorpion that could have one-shotted him with his stinger and fawning over a fluffy golden mole committing termite genocide. Attenborough was turning me into a serial-killer sympathiser.

Thankfully – for my own sanity – there were some bits I didn’t get on board with. No chance was I on the side of the murderous bird impaling it’s victims on spikes like something out of Game of Thrones (no matter how much chirpy music they put on to make it sound like The Good Life).

Of course, we did have some usual fanfare villains. The horde of locusts was a little unnerving, and there were so many at one point I was on the phone to Currys complaining about my TV’s picture and nearly missed the next part.

There was also the usual incredible scenery and impressive shots we’ve now come to expect from Planet Earth II. My personal highlight was when thousands of different animals filed considerately to drink from a water hole (unlike if it was a London tube), before chaos descended as a hawk attacked dozens of sandgrouse, while the other animals looked on nonchalantly (THAT’S more like a London tube).

In summary, another strong episode with more than one anecdote to talk about at the at work over the week. I haven’t even mentioned the stallion fight, which was the icing on the cake. Oh wait, Deserts. DAMN!

Planet Earth 2: Episode 2 – Dancing Bears for John Lewis Advert 2k17

Planet Earth 2: Episode 2 – Dancing Bears for John Lewis Advert 2k17

Planet Earth 2: Episode Two recap

Bears. Big, dancing, bloody bears.

After Planet Earth  returned with a bang after a decade with Iguanas vs Racer Snakes (if you just added ‘Giant’ to the front of that you’d have a decent film. Are you listening, Syfy?), I didn’t think they’d be able to top the astonishing social media reaction forMountains>but I was wrong. Very wrong.

We’re introduced to the grizzly bears of North America after they awake from hibernation under what must be a few feet of snow. We see an avalanche engulf their mountain and cut a path through the trees and find out this is one of thousands that occur in the Rockies each year. That’s a lot of snow.

The bears emerge looking like someone who has had one too many sambuca shots at Walkabout on a Saturday night, except for instead of looking for that half-eaten subway, they’re leading three cubs to a place where they can find food. Three cubs? Must have been one hell of a night.

The bears carefully traverse the powdery snow on the slops to find the valleys, where all the other bears will also go to find food and warmth. Spring hits these areas first and the change is incredible as the pallette shifts from white and gray to vibrant greens, yellows and browns within the space of a few days.

As beautiful as all of this scenery is however, it is only a backdrop to what appears to be the bears’ true purpose – strutting their stuff as they grind upon tree trunks with some funky dance moves.

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Image taken from http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08397lq/planet-earth-ii-2-mountains

Sure, David Attenborough tells us it’s to shed their thick winter coats in warmer climates, but you can bet one or two of those bears knew the eyes of the nation were on them and possibly spotted the chance to audition for the 2017 John Lewis Christmas advert (it would beat Buster the Dog).

What starts as one or two bears rubbing themselves against the trunks becomes 30 or so bears letting loose with surprising flexibility – I’m fairly sure I saw a ‘slut-drop’, as the youth now refer to it – and it’s only a matter of time before it’s remixed to a Drake song (the BBC have already cut it with the Pussycat Dolls).

As with the first episode however, there is a lot more to >Mountainsthan its main star. There’s an incredible section with Snow Leopards as a mother defends her cubs from male attackers, and Attenborough even pulls a Walking Dead-style fakeout on us. Cheeky, David.

The visual highlight is definitely the first-person view of a golden eagle as it glides above the slopes searching food before dive-bombing at 200mph. It’s incredible to watch and the ten minutes at the end where they show the making of the scene is well worth watching.

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Image taken from www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08397lq/planet-earth-ii-2-mountains

So to summarize, another great episode. My only gripe is that there seems to be less of Attenborough (I don’t think he appeared on screen) in favour of the cinematic style. While I am a fan of the latter, it seems a shame to phase out such an iconic face from the show and I hope he gets some screentime later in the series.

Still, we got dancing bears. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to put the finishing touches to my John Lewis pitch and find out how hard it is to train a grizzly to moonwalk.

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If you enjoy my attempts to piggyback of David Attenborough’s talents you may want to like my Facebook page so you can see my try it on a weekly basis!

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Planet Earth 2: Episode 1 – This Time It’s Earthier

Planet Earth 2: Episode 1 – This Time It’s Earthier

Planet Earth 2: Episode One recap

Attenborough’s back baby, and he’s brought friends.

The legendary broadcaster and naturalist (had to be careful to get that spelling right) has returned to our screens ten years after the original Planet Earth mini-series – and it’s brilliant.

Episode one focuses on islands and the animals that inhabit them including penguins, iguanas and of course – the social media darlings – sloths.

The program starts with the slow-mo superstar – the ‘pygmy three-toed sloth’ – climbing a tree in an island of Isla Escudi de Veraguas just off Panama. It starts off as standard sloth fare – climbing trees, searching for mangoes and generally looking quite content.

We are then hit with a bombshell – our protagonist is looking for a mate and there are only a few hundred sloths on the island. As the island is 4.3km² (which is probably more like 400km² when you move that slow and don’t have Uber) you get the feeling finding a female won’t be as easy as hitting the club and strutting your stuff to the tune of Mr Brightside.

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Images taken from Planet Earth II available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p048sflc/planet-earth-ii-1-islands

Suddenly a call comes from somewhere in the forest – a female call – and our sloth is on the move. He’s hardly the Flash, but he’s moving quicker than any sloth I’ve ever seen (which is too many while procrastinating at university). He then swims the ocean in between islands – at this point I was audibly cheering him on.

Usain Sloth then climbs to the summit of the tree to find a female who already has a mate, and a baby. Unlucky mate, it happens.

We are then introduced to a dragon fight. Admittedly not quite the spectacle of Game of Thrones, but watching a pair of ten-foot long armoured lizards battle over a mate is still quite the spectacle.

There are also heart-breaking scenes where some friendly-looking crabs looking to migrate are attacked by ants in a way that makes me feel slightly less bad about not leaving any air holes in my ant’s nest when I was six, while some penguins have to brave a leap and traverse solidified lava to protect and feed their families – sort of a cross between March of the Penguins and Saving Private Ryan.

The real highlight, however, was the iguanas. In one of the greatest cinematic scenes possibly ever in British television, I watched from between my fingers as baby iguanas dashed across the islands plains as they tried desperately to evade the ambush of the stalking racer snakes.

The segment isn’t just incredible because of how intense and nerve-wracking it is, but also because it shows how far the nature documentary has come over the last decade or so. Gone are the bog-standard panning shots of old, replaced by incredible tracking views that really capture the action. It felt like I should be watching in the cinema rather than at home in my pyjamas.

It was a truly stunning scene worthy of the universal praise it’s enjoying. Finding the action must be difficult enough for the film crew considering all the travelling and waiting, but the execution really does it justice.

Scenes like that seem to be what has made Planet Earth II into one of those rare programs that is not only wonderfully-made and full of interesting facts, but is also accessible to a huge audience. It even has an Oscar-worthy score from renowned composer Hans Zimmer. This feels like a series that has truly nailed the area between high-brow documentary and prime-time entertainment.

Attenborough’s back and it’s brilliant.

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If you enjoy my attempts to piggyback of David Attenborough’s talents you may want to like my Facebook page so you can see my try it on a weekly basis!

Or you can follow me on Twitter @SpeltWithAV, where it’s all me. Prepare to be underwhelmed.

© 2017