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Wonders of Life
Reviewed by
Sean Warhurst
Wonders of Life DVD Review If you have even a cursory interest in scientific documentaries you will find a lot to keep you entertained with Wonders of Life.

Feature 9.0
Video 9.0
Audio 9.0
Special Features   -
Total 9.0
Distributor: BBC
Genre: Documentary
Running Time: 293 Minutes
Reviewer: Sean Warhurst
: G


Wonders of Life

It never ceases to amaze me the diametric perceptual shift of Science in today’s society when compared to as little as ten years ago. Suddenly, Science is cool, and figures like Astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson and Professor Brian Cox are lauded almost as rock stars in their fields. No longer considered the domain of archetypical white Lab-Coat wearing “Brainboxes”, Science and the appreciation of it has experienced quite the renaissance lately; if further proof was needed, one only has to look at the massive following a page like the awesomely named “I F*cking Love Science” has garnered to realise that the esoteric and stuffy subject that was the bane of many a high school student has now well and truly stepped into the limelight where it belongs.

Wonders of Life, the BBC’s latest entry in the “Wonders” series presented by man of the moment Professor Brian Cox, attempts to explore just what ingredients and factors are necessary for life to perpetuate itself... A fairly lofty undertaking, to be sure. I have to admit to some initial trepidation as to how qualified Cox, a particle physicist, would be to explore the intricacies of Biology; The preceding programs in the series, Wonders of The Universe and Wonders of The Solar System, certainly fell squarely into the field of his expertise, but for this outing I feared that attaching his name to the program was more to cynically capitalise on his growing fan base rather than to provide a cohesive overview of admittedly convoluted subject matter.

Thankfully Cox is as enjoyable to watch as always, and it certainly appears that he’s boned up on the subject, to the degree where the legendary David Attenborough has named him as his natural successor. Like Attenborough himself, Cox is armed with an affable and relatable charm that allows for ease of imparting information; simply put, he’s just a joy to watch and makes even some of the more impenetrable aspects of science easy to absorb without a sense of dumbing it all down.

My fears about his perceived lack of expertise in this particular field were almost allayed instantly; Life, as with most everything else in existence, can be broken down to the same basic laws of physics that governed the creation of the universe and all it encompasses... A subject Cox is very familiar with, as evident by the previous entries in the series. This allows for Cox to explore the subject matter with the same self assuredness and accessibility that made the other programs so enthralling.

Throughout the series Cox journeys around the globe and touches upon spirituality and faith in a surprising aside as he attends ceremony in the Philippines where patrons attempt to commune with the the dead. Exploring varied tangents such as this serves to break up the series and prevents information overload, which admittedly can still occur due to the constant barrage of scientific exposition and the relation of the properties of physics to biological processes. Each episode focuses on a different facet of existence, from how energy is formed and how it supports life to the development of senses and the external influence of the environment on evolution.

Episode Listing:

-      What is Life?

-      Expanding Universe

-      Endless Forms Most Beautiful

-      Size Matters

-      Home 

Special Features

Unfortunately there are no supplemental features on this release, but when the main content is as strong and as enthralling as Wonders of Life then this can be easily forgiven.

Final Thought

While it can be quite heavy going in parts, Wonders of Life is a worthy successor to Wonders of the Universe and Wonders of the Solar System. Of course a healthy interest in science is probably necessary to gain full enjoyment of the program, and some may be put off by the technical terms and scientific jargon about Proton Gradients and the like, but this fresh exploration of life from a physicists perspective is engaging and, most importantly, accessible. A lot of this comes down to Cox’s sheer unbridled enthusiasm and the deft way he ties biology, chemistry and physics together into a neat little package.

Everything in nature, when you boil it down to its most basic form, is bound by the same set of rules that govern existence and the sheer concept that every living thing on earth can have its origins traced back to the same molecule is astounding to consider. This mind-boggling information is accompanied by the BBC’s usual flawless photography, presenting beautiful vistas and close-up looks at various animals that are resplendent in their detail.

If you have even a cursory interest in scientific documentaries you will find a lot to keep you entertained with Wonders of Life.

Highly recommended.


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