Hidden Kingdoms (Original UK Version of Discovery's Mini Monsters)
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In the first of three episodes, "Under Open Skies," the story follows two animals: an orphaned elephant shrew on the plains of Kenya and an adventurous young grasshopper mouse in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Both had to leave their homes in a neverending search for food. Facing dangers like grass fires and floods, they had to learn survival skills quickly, or they wouldn't last long.
"Secret Forests" is the second episode, which features a chipmunk in Quebec and a tree shrew in the Borneo jungle. The young chipmunk had to lay in a supply of acorns before winter came or it would face starvation, but a thieving neighbor was making that very difficult. In Borneo, the acrobatic tree shrew needed the fruits from a nearby tree, but animals like the orangutans had first dibs on the fruit, and there were plenty of others vying for the few leftovers.
The third and final episode in the series, "Urban Jungles," is about a young marmoset monkey in Rio de Janeiro, where the sprawling city has encroached on the adjacent jungle, and a rhinoceros beetle in the glitz and bright lights of Tokyo. The marmoset has been separated from his family, and without their support, he's on his own, trying to find food and avoid his worst urban enemy - cats.Read more ›
The closest we've gotten prior to this show at seeing things the way small creatures see them is very occasionally with small stationary cameras at ground level or in burrows. Until we can mount unobtrusive, tiny cameras on animals and develop tremendous motion-stabilization software, it seems to me that this program and technology is the closest we'll get. Since small animals, as seen on their level, can seem almost cartoonish to us, music and narration with a lighthearted touch seems appropriate. Majestic, awestriking audio would seem wrong. It's also a nature film that certainly should appeal to youngsters and, with this country's (USA) woeful scientific illiteracy, any help to get kids interested is greatly appreciated. If you enjoy the program for what it's trying to do, it is fabulous, quite unique, and took a great deal of work with as little reliance on CGI as possible (see the "Making Of" supplement).
Hidden Kingdoms is spectacularly well-made, remarkably entertaining, and surprisingly informative. (Probably in that order.) I watch a lot of nature documentaries, and while this one may be tough to classify (a trait that appears to inexplicably enrage a few people) it is absolutely a must-see. And while perhaps no David Attenborough, Stephen Fry's involvement in the project should -- and does -- lend it some gravitas.
But don't watch it for academic reasons. Watch it because it's thoroughly enjoyable and visually spectacular. And ignore those who feign some kind of elitist outrage. Because that's absurd.
Hidden Kingdom combines real animals and special effects (composite images, CGI creations, slow-mo, special lighting effects) to tell the story. I thought it was beautifully done, my husband thought special effects were a bit overdone. We both enjoyed it.
Each episode of the show is followed by "how this was done" segment and I enjoyed learning about behind the scenes information as well. It is not a documentary, so if you are looking for a documentary you might be disappointed. But I thought it was beautifully shot and entertaining.
I received a review copy of the DVD with a request for an honest unbiased review.
Ali Julia review
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great Animal and Nature lover series along the lines of BBC series Planet Earth and Blue Planet.Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
An amazing video in Blue-ray. I love these videos. It was done by the same people that did Planet Earth/BBC. My wife just does not get it. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
Really a very good series and includes cutting edge cinematography that captures footage all from the view of miniature creatures. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Erica Wu