Automotive Deals Best Books of the Month Amazon Fashion Learn more nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Stephen Marley Fire TV Stick Sun Care Handmade school supplies Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer TarantinoCollection TarantinoCollection TarantinoCollection  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 All-New Kindle Oasis STEM Segway miniPro

Format: Blu-ray|Change
Price:$26.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on January 8, 2010
Over the past two decades, the BBC Natural History Unit has become a prolific documentary factory of the highest order, with ever-improving skills and increasing dedication. Some of their productions are relatively minor, but this is one of their flagships, and you can tell this because they use David Attenborough as the narrator (who is still in top form).

The theme for this 10-part series is the challenges of life and how various animals and plants solve them. This includes unusual and extreme food gathering techniques, hunting strategies, surprising evolutionary weapons and defenses, adaptations to harsh environments, mating rituals, and the lengths they go to in order to pick the right breeding partners.

Each episode covers this vast topic in specific areas: The first episode is an overview and top-20 hit parade of the upcoming episodes. Each of the ensuing episodes then cover a branch of the animal kingdom, including reptiles, insects, mammals, plants, birds, fish, with additional specialized episodes covering hunting, sea-life and primates.

This will obviously overlap with many of their previous releases, especially The Trials of Life, Attenborough's series covering the animal kingdom, and even The Living Planet and Planet Earth. But their approach here is interestingly well-chosen: Previously covered footage and educational information is usually summarized, before continuing with the more obscure, the upgraded, and the exciting new details.

For example, The Private Life of Plants is obviously much more comprehensive and educational, but this show's episode on plants features things like a 60-second time-lapse shot of growing life in the woodlands that took two years to create, new information on the strange shape of the Dragon's Blood tree, and more footage on the Venus Flytrap, this time its dual use of insects complete with tiny sound recordings.

Now, I have a pet peeve about repetition. This show's annoyingly useless overview episode, and the fact that much of the information and footage lacks freshness and has been covered before, all tempt me to rate this show lower. But the combination of nicely summarized educational information, a good theme and structure, new amazing cinematography that uses the latest skills and technology, and some new exciting footage that I don't think I have ever seen before, compels me to give this top marks. This is a much better release than Planet Earth.

In addition, while many nature documentaries have elements of drama and laughs, this show has more than usual, and you will find yourself frequently touched, horrified or very amused by all of the amazing behaviour on screen, all obviously very real.

The BBC also continue their recent trend that devotes the last 10 minutes of each episode to a 'making of' featurette. These are usually just as interesting as the footage and you can always stop watching if you aren't interested, so I suppose I can't complain. But keep in mind that if you subtract the overview episode and diary scenes, you are actually getting 450 minutes instead of 600.

In summary: If you are relatively new to BBC documentaries, this will amaze you to no end AND provide a nice informative summary of life on earth. If you are a seasoned watcher of Attenborough's series, you can still enjoy this series as a combination of educational summary, a provider of new, complementary and upgraded information with some of the most beautiful, rare and amazing footage ever recorded, and even as a highly entertaining natural drama and comedy, or 'nature dramedy', if I may coin a phrase.

However, if you place emphasis on educational and more comprehensive information, Attenborough's previous Life series still reign supreme and will probably remain unequalled for a long, long time.
3838 comments| 451 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 20, 2010
The Life series is fantastic, but it comes in two versions -- this one, narrated by Oprah Winfrey for the US market; and the original version as narrated by the naturalist David Attenborough.

While the cinematography remains unchanged, Oprah's narration lacks the depth that Attenborough's years of experience as both naturalist and narrator brings to the table. I strongly recommend waiting for the US release of the original BBC version, narrated by David Attenborough.
2121 comments| 909 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 21, 2010
This is atrocious. I'm watching "Life" on Discovery channel right now, with Oprah narrating. Some of the reviewers said that the script was re-written for her, and I can believe it. I can't believe Attenborough saying lines like "hunting crab seals is toooo much work!" Oprah narrates this thing as if she were reading a bedtime story to little kids and comes off as snarky and condescending. In the opening segment, she's discussing a fox chasing an ibex kid and it's basically like "heeeere comes the fox! UH OH!!"

The most embarrassing thing is that I'm thinking that British people think that Americans demanded this. Who's going to be doing the next special, Dr. Phil? "Oh-kaaay, here comes the alee-gaytor, it's prey tries to run, but that neeeever works! HAW HAW HAW!" Don't get this. Get the real version.
3838 comments| 868 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 20, 2010
Why on earth have they decided to dub the documentary into American English baffles me. Is British English appallingly obscure and incomprehensible?

First Harry Potter and now this. What a shameful way to undermine language for the sake of a couple of bucks?

I have various BBC Documentaries - I LOVE them, and despite the fact that I am not British I understand everything, and David Attenborough's voice in much more credible, isn't this what he does professionally?

Oprah would probably be more suitable for bedtime story recordings for sleepy youngsters.

I suggest getting the original David Attenborough version (Check the star rating and compare!)
1515 comments| 449 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 1, 2010
I have seen the first two in this series in both the Attenborough and Oprah narrations. The Attenborough version is, of course, the better of the two.
While there is a general idea (at least among American anti-intellectuals) that scientists are boring, uptight, fuddy-duddies, the truth is that the well-educated populizers of science, such as Attenborough, still hold a very dear place in the hearts of a very large group of people in America who have not yet gone bat guano crazy. The reason why a man like Sir David Attenborough is so well esteemed among enthusiasts of nature documentary, whereas Oprah Winfrey is not, is because when one devotes their entire life to the understanding of a certain topic they are able to bring a wonder-filled enthusiasm, backed by a substantial knowledge, to that topic. Most of us are not looking for a "Wow...Look...nature is cool!" sort of commentary. We already understand that. We wish for someone to fill us with the wonder of understanding. The only thing that separates humankind from the animals in these documentaries is that we are truly *thinking* about them. Why stare, slack-jawed, as if nature were a train wreck while ludicrously under-qualified talk show hosts point and extrapolate the obvious when we can spend that time in awe while actually learning? This documentary is one of the finest ever made, but only the BBC version is worth consideration.
1717 comments| 281 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 5, 2010
I'm sorry but this has been painful to watch. I love Planet Earth and Blue Planet. I watch both series numerous times a year both at home and as applicable clips in the classroom. My students are amazed and every time I am enthralled. I assigned extra credit for watching this series thinking, just like its predecessors, it would be amazing. The good is that visually, it is fantastic once more and it's educational value in terms of predator prey relationships and adaptation are incredible. Unfortunately, the bad has been suffering through Oprah. Her painfully dull narration is an absolute killer! I don't care for Oprah but it's her show not her voice that bothers me. I had no reason to believe she would do a poor job. Instead I find myself bored, even annoyed by her narration. It's not like I was dying to have Mr. Attenborough narrate another program either. I show four separate series with him as narrator (The Private Life of Plants and Life in the Undergrowth are the other two) and my student's have grown accustomed to, almost tired of him. I thought I might grab the alternate version of this just for that reason. After suffering through this on TV, now I can't wait for Mr. Attenborough's version! I can't wait to hear some life brought back into this fantastic presentation.
0Comment| 80 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 23, 2010
I have nothing against Oprah. I was very excited to watch the Premier of the Life Series on the Discovery Channel. However, once Oprah started talking you could tell she was reading off a script. Her voice sounded so monotone that within 20 mins I actually fell asleep. The visuals were stunning but I could not stay awake through her narration, it was like a sleeping pill. I'll be picking up Attenborough's version and hopefully it'll be more exciting.
33 comments| 87 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 5, 2010
As a frequent watcher of nature programs over the last 30 years, I have to say that this is one of the all time greats. Attenborough docs are always solid and there's no shortage of the usual charm, but the filming techniques have really come to the fore on this effort. There are utterly spectacular moments in each of the episodes. Yes, the overview episode is redundant, but there's very little else to be critical about. One for the ages, this.
0Comment| 127 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 19, 2010
Ever since Discovery started doing these re-narrations of the popular BBC nature documentaries, I have been confused and progressively more angered. Firstly, the fact that they even chose to take David Attenborough's narration out is insulting to one of the greatest naturalists ever. The fact that they could possibly imagine eliminating the man that basically MADE this genre of documentaries is just plain stupid and offensive and undermines Mr. Attenborough's lifelong work, which is especially terrible! Secondly, it makes us Americans look like simpletons who just want big hollywood names (that have nothing to do with anything relevant to this!) possibly in an effort to make us feel special or something!? Another possibility is that perhaps the marketing experts feel Americans are too stupid to understand British English or would be as closed minded to not purchase it because it is not good old "American". This is absolutely stupid. Everyone PLEASE just heed these warnings and buy the Attenborough versions also available and make the sales figures for the "American" version so miserable that Discovery finally gets the idea that we are tired of this crap!
11 comment| 142 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 20, 2010
I think people should continue with the one star reviews so that everyone is very clear on which version they are looking at. Unless of course you actually prefer the Oprah version (which would be baffling).

David Attenborough is an excellent narrator. I'm not sure what the deal is with releasing other versions (with different narrators).

Now they are even going a step further and airing the Oprah version on launch, at least with Planet Earth they aired the David Attenborough version first.

A lot of people that liked Planet Earth mistakenly ordered the DVDs with this is just a warning to make sure you check which version you are ordering and be sure you are getting the one you want.

Let them know you want quality narration and vote with your $$$.

Update: Tried to watch the first two eps on TV and it was horrid. At least Sigourney wasn't terrible (she just wasn't as good as David Attenborough). Oprah = FAIL or to put it another way "a big bag of hurt".
11 comment| 99 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse