Frozen Planet [Blu-Ray]

Frozen Planet [Blu-Ray]
Every time the BBC Earth team offers up another captivating wallop of nature porn, it's undoubtedly a spectacle that begs to be seen with as much clarity and precision as humanly possible, which is what makes the Blu-Ray HD transfer the ultimate medium. Furthermore, and as always, the actual full series package includes extensive supplemental footage almost as compelling as the astounding, once-in-a-lifetime documentary. With Frozen Planet, there are over two hours of production diaries and "Freeze Frame," behind-the-scenes vignettes, detailing the gruelling living conditions and technical issues in shooting in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Since this series takes place over the course of a year, with segments titled after each of the four seasons, getting to these remote areas and setting up cumbersome equipment is often a challenge. It gives an added dimension of appreciation for the David Attenborough narrated episodes that detail the day-to-day existence of animals and humans alike at the Northern and Southern poles of our planet. Obviously, the bulk of the documentary covers the lifestyles of polar bears and penguins, noting the hunting plight of bears with depleted ice floes due to global warming. But rather than preaching, this series sticks to thorough, balanced documentation, discussing the breeding habits of the animals, wherein male polar bears beat the crap out of each other to ensure the strongest mates with the female, while penguins stand around in hordes and protect their young from the many birds and leopard seals that feed on stragglers. Also of note are the creepy, gang raping tendencies of caribou, as well as the hunting style of killer whales, collectively creating waves to wash seals from ice floes, making them easy prey. There's also a segment on a caterpillar that spends 14 years waking up annually for a brief time to stuff itself full of food, only to freeze again shortly thereafter. Once it's completed its protracted cycle of survival repetition, it turns into a moth, only to rush to breed quickly before it dies. This, like many of the animal lifestyles depicted within this exquisitely shot series, noted for its time lapse and slow motion photography, screams of futility. In fact, an overwhelming sense of pointlessness permeates the entire documentary, which is obviously overshadowed by dramatic music and prosaic narration that praises the miracle of life. It's just a shame that the miracle of life seems to be about struggling endlessly only to wind up dead without any sort of meaning or catharsis. (Warner)