The Future is Wild is not your normal
documentary series. Sure there have been other CGI aided documentaries, "The
Ballad of Big Al" and "Walking with Dinosaurs" are two of mention, but this
has something different, a topic which I have never seen tackled. The topic is
what sort of animals will be around in 5 million years (I bet you didn't guess
that, unless of course you read the title of the disc...), the other 2 in the
series follow on to 100 million and 200 million years.
It's an interesting concept, mainly because
it's completely up to the imagination of the writers and artists. The animals
in this disc are unusual to look at, and for good reason. The earth is in an
ice age, and the only animals that live are the ones who have managed to
adapt. Looking back at animals of the past, there are some downright bizarre
creature included. With this information and with some help from top
scientists in the field artists have created a collection of animals that have
adapted, and have found ways to live in the harsh climate of an ice age.
It's very hard to rate this documentary,
simply because of the amount of guess work that is involved, sure it's been
aided by a variety of scientists who specialise in the field, but it's still
all guesses (as is stated in the disc I might add). Normally the content
included, the accuracy and the knowledge learnt are the main things to look
for. As you can see, that's impossible for the subject material.
What I will say is that I heck of a lot of
work must have gone into this series. The first of the 3 (5 Million years) is
the most limited by the relatively small time span that has passed. By the
time 100 million years has passed the gates of evolution have been left wide
open, to allow the creators almost an open slather for there creatures.
As far as the what is in the "5 million
years from now..." disc, I must admit, it all seems logical. It's a bit far
out at times, and sometimes unbelievable, but some of the creatures from the
past are just as unbelievable, so it can't be discounted. I guess it all comes
down to the guess work, just educated guess work. This is both the series
biggest draw card, and biggest flaw. Many people will simply not believe that
what they are seeing is going to be, and they are not necessarily wrong. It's
a novel idea for a documentary, but an ultimately flawed one at that.
Presented in 16x9 is not what you expect
to hear in relation to a documentary. It is starting to change though, and The
Future is Wild series is some of the material presented as such. Being mainly
CGI it's hard to say there's a bad picture, because you simply can't tell what
is or isn't intentional. Well, you can't tell with the animation at least. As
far as artefacts go, and other picture concerns, that are unrelated to CGI,
it's far easier to complain. Not that there's a lot to complain about, but
there are problems.
The sharpness is down on what I would
expect (this excludes the CGI, and is in reference to the non animated
backgrounds), it's not terrible, but I've seen sharper images to be certain.
Also a problem is the colours (again not relating to the CGI), they are just a
little duller than they should be. As you can see the above are not major
problems, but they are still apparent. Overall it's good quality though, and
the CGI animals are just plain cool.
Standard documentary fare here, that's
right, 2.0 channel stereo. Not that there's any cause to complain, you are not
expecting to hear anything out of the rears, or the subwoofer. I guess it
would be nice to mix it to use the centre channel, but it's just not worth the
effort, and only quiets the nit pickers anyway (like me). The audio is
perfectly audible as it is, even with some of the think accents that arise
A decent collection of extras are
included with the disc, possibly the most useful of which is the background
information pages. These not only tell you what each animal is likely to be
like, how they live etc, but also includes bio's on the scientists who worked
on the series. I consider this one of the most important because it helps to
see the side they saw, as well as making the show a fair bit more realistic. I
mean if it wasn't for the contributions of these scientists, the show would
most likely be almost unwatchable. There's also some making of featurettes and
3D animation sections. The future is now featurette goes for 25 odd minutes
and shows some sneak peaks of the next two in the series, which I guarantee if
you enjoyed this you'll really be looking out for both of these. There's also
a photo gallery with just under 20 images and a links page.