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Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates 

David Attenborough embarks on a remarkable 500 million-year journey revealing the extraordinary group of animals that dominate our world, and how their evolution defines our human bodies.
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2013  
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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David Attenborough embarks on a remarkable 500 million-year journey revealing the extraordinary group of animals that dominate our world, and how their evolution defines our human bodies.

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20 September 2013 (UK)  »

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David Attenborough's Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates  »

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A triumph
7 November 2017 | by See all my reviews

As said many times, David Attenborough is a national treasure. He may apparently dislike the term, but it is hard to not say that about such a great presenter who has contributed significantly to some of the best documentaries there's ever been. Even lesser work, such as 'The Penguin King', is still more than worthwhile.

It is really hard picking favourites, let alone a definite favourite, among what Attenborough has done because he has done so many gems. It is the equivalent of trying to choose your favourite ice cream flavour or your favourite operatic role (for examples) and finding you can't pick. My one criticism of 'Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates' is that for my liking there aren't enough episodes. Otherwise, it represents everything that is so good about Attenborough and his large and consistently good body of work.

For me it is very hard not reiterating what was said in reviews of Attenborough's previous work because consistently they have exactly the same strengths in quality. 'Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates' as always with Attenborough is a beautiful-looking series. It is beautifully filmed, done in a completely fluid and natural, sometimes intimate way and there is nothing static about it at all. The editing is smooth and succinct and the wide range of habitats make for some truly eye catching scenery that are just as big in character as the animals/subjects and Attenborough himself. The music is fitting and memorable.

The animals/subjects (primitive fish, amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs, birds, mammals, primates and humans) are also wide in variety and not only do they look great their personalities, whether prey or predator, are big. One learns a lot about them and cares about them in the same way they would for a human character in a film (more so than most actually). This may sound like hyperbole, but it really came across that way to me.

Using the likes of diagrams and fossils to back up what is said, what the viewer is told is constantly fascinating, nothing is trivialised and nothing patronises. There are some complex themes explored and to full potential. Found myself learning a lot and found that even familiar knowledge was expanded upon. Format-wise, the variety in habitats and animals is so diverse that repetition never kicks in. Like Attenborough's best work, it is easy to connect emotionally and it is hard not to be captivated by the fun, tension and pathos.

Attenborough is a huge part of the appeal, of course, and his contribution helps significantly. He is very candid, clearly knowing his stuff and knowing what to say and how to say it. He delivers it with his usual richness, soft-spoken enthusiasm and sincerity, never talking down to the viewer and keeping them riveted and wanting to know more.

In summary, despite being too short from personal opinion this is a triumph and fans of Attenborough shouldn't miss it. 9/10 Bethany Cox


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