Review: Planet Earth II
2016 – what a year! In times of global disasters, it takes a lot for telly to reinstate some faith that it’s not all doom and gloom across the world. It would seem almost perfect timing for the return of Planet Earth, Filmed a decade since the first series audiences are excited for its return . If snuggling in with your housemates with a hangover on Sunday evening watching cute penguins waddling about doesn’t fill you with joy, I honestly don’t know what will.
The first episode explored we look at islands and we were given a snazzy little introduction from David ‘the daredevil’ Attenborough scaling a mountain range on a somewhat flimsy looking hot air balloon. He tells us that after a decade we are able to view the natural world like never before thanks to the advance in technology, but also that we are in a more precarious position than ever when it comes to protecting these ‘precious and fragile wildernesses’ – a deep contrast to Trump’s denial of climate change. The classic sweeping shot of Earth from above and the suitably dramatic title music might be a bit a little clichéd, but certainly ignites enthusiasm and gives you a sense of the sheer scale of this production. In fact, I later found out that the score is composed by Hans Zimmer, of The Lion King and Pirates of the Caribbean fame, which for a production of this nature does actually seem quite fitting.
The cinematography is nothing short of stunning – even on my student television. The colours are extraordinary thanks to the use of drones and other teeny tiny cameras hidden in the trees. This really aids the whole experience as you can see with incredible detail a komodo dragon’s amazing scale patterns, or even a crab getting shot in the eye with acid by a poisonous ant.
We start off on the Island of Escudo with an adorable pygmy three-toed sloth snooping around the trees -it was a surprise to learn that they could swim – honestly, watch it for that, if nothing else.
From here, we experience some funny swimming iguanas which baffled me even more. Obviously, the animal kingdom very rarely involves all the animals in harmony, but in this sort of TV it is something you hope will happen, even just once. I needn’t say more other than if you don’t like snakes, brace yourself…
I’m pretty sure I saw people referring to this particular scene as #IguanaGate on Twitter, which tells you just how much people get invested into this series!
After lemurs and tropical crabs on Madagascar, we head down south to Zavodovski, a volcanic island towards Antarctica with very little life or vegetation, apart from chinstrap penguins, of which the producers estimate there around 2 million, and stretch out in vast swathes across the whole of the rocky volcanic landscape. Poignantly, the program concludes with the mention that these penguins will have never seen human life before, highlighting the precarious relationship between man and the natural world, and therefore cleverly reminding us to that our footprint is more vital now than ever for life on Earth.