The good part is simply the idea of exploring an alien planet, and the graphic result is correct. Just correct, technically; nothing great, as every occurrence of life is well isolated in its environment, so that there is always only one thing worth watching at once in any given picture.
Now for the many wrongs, in no particular order: The comment is awful; almost complete garbage in terms of content. It is either pure speculation presented as fact, biologists talking as if they actually studied the fake alien species, or useless clichés of point of views such as that it would be great/awesome/a breakthrough/major to discover life elsewhere. Thanks for the insights, guys. It may be the reason why I fell asleep in the middle and had to watch the rest the next day.
While a couple of comments are actually useful in their context, the narrated exploration / pseudo-scientific comment duality of the treatment deserves the movie. The visual part, good enough to keep you watching in hope that it will get better - the fiction is properly treated in crescendo, promising to be more eventful as time passes - is constantly interrupted by these boring people with their empty words. Some of them are just famous people, without the smallest spark of a reason to be there in the first place. Except to entrap some fans of theirs into watching. Beware George Lucas or Stephen Hawkins lovers: your idol will only appear for 3 seconds at the very beginning and 3 more at the very end of the thing, while the rest of us just get annoyed.
Talking about annoying, here is how you recognise a USA documentary from, for example, a European one: before every commercial break - and not only are there commercial breaks, but there are an incredible amount of them - they give you a sneak preview of what's going to happen. Ouch! Makes you wonder why bother to build some suspense in the first place. Or, more relevantly, why they were not simply taken out of the DVD version.
Now, the main disappointment for me is actually such a common rule that I shouldn't call it disappointing. It is the simple fact that every single time I see or hear something about exotic life, well, it's not exotic at all. It ends up being unimaginative parallels of Earth's most visible lifeforms. In that regard, Alien Planet falls particularly low. It starts with trees - complete with trunks, branches, leaves and sap - going to mushrooms, pack animals, running predators, all tagged with comments on their very terrestrial behaviours, be it deer duels, wolf pack hunting tactics, and so on. What a bore! I don't want to write pages on the subject but, for example, it's land exploration only, yet no thoughts are put into geology, very little into the weather, almost none into the notion of ecosystem... The objective is not to make us think about life, what it means, what it could be, how really alien it could be; it's all about trying to impress us with big critters 3D models on dull backgrounds.
It doesn't matter from which angle, either science or fantasy, such a world could be built. Imagination was not much put to use here. The only part which begins to be interesting, as in alien, is the amoebic sea. Put more stuff like this, alter your building blocks, populate your world with small and interacting creatures, natural hazards, exotic landscapes, remove all the talking people, then we'll talk again. In the meantime, when I want to be mesmerized by a strange and fascinating e.t. world, I'll go back to watching Dark Crystal.
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