Growing up, I loved Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. I have fond memories of watching animals tearing each other apart for meals. You won't find that in Earth, the new nature documentary. I figure this was to get a large family audience. Overall, this was a smart choice that doesn't diminish the impact of the film.
Earth is the chronicle of a year on, as James Earl Jones narrates, the only planet known capable of supporting life due to the precise location and tilt of Earth.
We start with a polar bear family in the Arctic (which elicited the audience to instantly cry "Ah" when the cubs popped out of their shelter). Their lives will be hard, we're warned, because of the warming of the planet. This is something we're told often, which is important to remember as we continue to watch the glories and beauty of our planet.
From there, we leisurely travel south, visiting the woodland and rainforest, which provides a fantastic montage of a variety of Birds of Paradise. We see a humpback whale and her cub as the travel the oceans to the Antarctic, where we encounter penguins and a herd of elephants in the Kalahari in Africa.
This film doesn't shrink from suggesting nature can be deadly but it isn't graphic; that is a plus since the majority of the audience was children. If they're smart, they'll understand sometimes, through no human or creature's fault death is part of life.
Earth has beautiful imagery that is accessible to all ages. Children will respond to the animals presented as adorable, while any harsh elements of animal life are just hinted at. The environmental message in Earth is also subtle but effective and sincere. It is a well-crafted film that is both entertaining and educational without one overpowering the other.