Strange Days on Planet Earth 2

Strange Days on Planet Earth 2
National Geographic is banking on the concerned celebrity status of Edward Norton to raise the profile of its Strange Days on Planet Earth series. This second entry, containing the episodes "Dangerous Catch” and "Dirty Secrets,” does little to make the educational information imparted an enjoyable viewing experience. "Dangerous Catch” is particularly frustrating in its style and construction. Yes, over-fishing is awful and tremendously damaging to myriad environmental systems. There are no closed systems in nature, everything affects everything else — not the most revelatory info for seasoned National Geographic viewers but important to note nonetheless. However, herein lies the problem with these two pseudo-docs: the information doesn’t jive with the style. "Dangerous Catch” has some pretty important and complicated processes to explain but much of it would be over the heads of the age of viewer who’d be amused by the terribly hokey film techniques and editing. It’s so terribly indulgent in the first episode that it completely taints the viewing experience. Maybe the fault lies at the hands of some over-zealous film school students trying out all the junk they learned, but whatever the case, it’s a disservice to the purpose of the project. Who needs to see a frame of Norton’s talking head in a random mirror in the desert? "Dirty Secrets” is the far superior of the two, toning down the amateur theatrics and focusing on some terrifying information. Discussing the effects of pollution killing coral in the underground water systems of the Yucatan and its role in growing disease in fish stocks, this episode is brimming with horror (want to see the interior of a bird stomach full of bottle caps, plastic pellets and other assorted garbage?) but short on real solutions. Still, when there’s this much man-made chaos occurring, somebody needs to keep blowing the whistle, even if it is a little garish, at times.   (Warner)