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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Beautiful Planet is a stunning IMAX documentary (presented in 3-D when available) that takes viewers onto the International Space Station to get a glimpse of Earth from space. There's no shortage of incredible views, some of which are sobering -- including a massive typhoon in the South Pacific, the drought-stricken California landscape, and the melting Greenland ice sheet. Kids will learn about life on the space station (including a slightly tense sequence in which an astronaut struggles to get into his suit and talks about how even a tiny hole could kill him) and see humanity's huge impact on our planet, from deforestation to greenhouse gas emissions. The images (especially in IMAX scale) might be a little overwhelming for younger kids, but anyone interested in science, space, or the environment will be blown away, and the astronauts are great role models who demonstrate the importance of communication and cooperation.
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What's the story?
Jennifer Lawrence narrates A BEAUTIFUL PLANET, an IMAX documentary that delivers breathtaking views of Earth from space. Viewers see all parts of the the planet -- the beautiful and the tragically transformed -- from the vantage of the International Space Station. The film also takes viewers inside the ISS to see how astronauts live and work. Directed by Toni Myers (Hubble 3D) and made in partnership with IMAX and NASA, A Beautiful Planet provides a never-before-seen look at the Earth ... and what humanity has done to the planet.
Is it any good?
This incredible documentary features breathtaking views of Earth from the International Space Station. The astronauts spent their free time filming it, and what they captured is astonishing -- from the nighttime lights of Paris to the sparkling turquoise ocean of the Caribbean during the day. And it's not just that the images are beautiful and never-before-seen; Lawrence's vioce-over gives context to what we're seeing: a world that's changing at the hands of humanity. Dead forests, dry rivers, and melting glaciers are startling to see, and viewers are told how it could get worse. One of the most poignant contrasts is the difference between North and South Korea at night. South Korea is lit up and vibrant, while across the border the land is covered in darkness.
But it's not all dire. There are also stories of how the damage from climate change has been reversed, and the film encourages people to care more about the planet. We also get a real idea of what it's like to live on a space station. Italian astronaut Samantha Crisoforetti and the rest of the crew answer questions we all have about how astronauts eat, bathe, exercise, and sleep (Crisoforetti sleeps floating, not strapped to the wall) in space. We watch as an astronaut struggles to get into his space suit, then goes outside for maintenance, with only a cord keeping him attached. There's a lot to learn about and be fascinated by for both kids and parents in A Beautiful Planet.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about A Beautiful Planet's take on humanity's impact on Earth. What was your reaction to seeing melting glaciers, forests on fire, and miles of drought-stricken land? How could you take action?
Two of the astronauts lived on the International Space Station for one year. Can you imagine being away from family, friends, and the Earth for that long?
A Beautiful Planet explores the possibility of another planet like Earth and another star like the sun in our galaxy. Do you think there's life on other planets?
- In theaters: April 29, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: December 11, 2018
- Cast: Jennifer Lawrence
- Director: Toni Meyers
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Science and Nature
- Character strengths: Communication, Teamwork
- Run time: 45 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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