Earth Movie Poster Image


Dazzling wildlife docu has a few intense moments.
Parents recommend
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids will learn a lot about the habitat and habits of the featured animals -- and the world in which all of us live.

Positive messages

The movie is a strong argument for conservation and taking care of the planet. It doesn't shy away from showing the realities of life in the wild, but it doesn't linger on or exploit the sadder scenes, either.

Positive role models

The animals' behavior is presented in a way that makes some of them into positive role models. All of the mothers are incredibly protective and loving toward their young. They teach their babies how to navigate the world, just as human parents do, which will help young viewers (and their parents!) relate to the animals. The animals are also tough survivors who have to overcome staggering odds each year just to stay nourished and alive.

Violence & scariness

In several scenes, predators -- a pride of lions, a cheetah, a wolf -- successfully catch and kill other animals, such as an elephant, a caribou calf, and a gazelle. In each case, the camera cuts before anything grisly happens, but the animal's death is obvious and could upset some kids. Another animal dies (on camera) of starvation, and one confused young elephant ends up walking in the opposite direction of his herd, which will clearly lead to his death.

Sexy stuff

The mating rituals of a few animals are discussed, and, in one humorous sequence, a male bird of paradise tries to seduce a female by tidying up his habitat and performing a special "song and dance."

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this stunning nature documentary portrays how animals around the world are born, live, and, yes, die. Although there aren't any grisly shots of predators ripping apart their prey, there are disturbing scenes in which animals are chased and attacked. In a few cases, the predators win; you see them grip their catch with their teeth, but then the scene quickly changes. Other than those possibly upsetting scenes -- plus another in which an animal dies of starvation and exhaustion -- the film is appropriate (and educational) for kids of all ages. It's worth noting that the movie uses footage from the acclaimed TV series Planet Earth, so if you've seen that, you've seen the images included here.

What's the story?

EARTH is a gorgeously photographed documentary that follows animals on all seven continents throughout one year's "circle of life." Re-combining footage from the BBC production Planet Earth (shown on the Discovery Channel in the U.S.), British wildlife documentarians Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield focus on a few key animal families -- polar bears, humpback whales, and elephants -- that have to overcome exhausting, dangerous obstacles to survive each season. From the birds of paradise strutting their feathers in the tropics to the lone lynx in the coniferous forest, Earth shows how seasonal changes affect birth, life, and death on our planet.

Is it any good?


In its worldwide scope, the fim is stunningly epic -- a cinematographic masterpiece of the natural world. From the polar bear cubs and Adelie penguins adorably navigating their icy terrain to the Demoiselle cranes soaring above the Himalayas, there are countless breathtaking scenes. With James Earl Jones' rich, familiar baritone narrating the action (and yes, he does actually say "circle of life" as a wink to Lion King fans), even young kids will sit still to watch the drama of Earth unfold.

Knowing its audience, Disney and the filmmakers purposefully cut out anything grisly. There's no When Animals Attack-style compilation of bloody maulings in the wild. But there are several poignantly implied deaths, as well as one overt one. In one particularly heartbreaking scene, a caribou calf tries valiantly to outrun a hungry wolf (the odds are even, Jones explains, because caribou run faster than wolves), but the calf loses his footing, and the wolf catches him in a single stride. But for every sorrow there is also a triumph -- like when the exhausted, dehydrated elephant herd finally reaches the Okafago delta and can at last drink and frolic in the water. If we humans don't take care of our planet, the film suggests, there won't be enough water for the elephants -- or ice for the polar bears or trees for the birds -- and that's a lesson we could all use.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the circle of life. Some of the animal death scenes may be upsetting, but they're also part of nature. How do kids feel about seeing some animals attack others? Does it make them feel differently about the predators?

  • Were the animals overly humanized, or was it clear that animals aren't exactly like people?

  • Families can also talk about how the planet's creatures are all interconnected. How does the changing climate in one part of the world affect animals across the globe?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 22, 2009
DVD/Streaming release date:September 1, 2009
Cast:James Earl Jones, Patrick Stewart
Directors:Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield
Topics:Science and nature, Wild animals
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:G

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Parent of a 7 year old Written byrobrosen May 4, 2009

Beautiful, but a bit scary.

Beautifully shot, but scary during the predator/prey scenes.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent of a 13 year old Written byPenguinpal May 16, 2009

Warning: if your children are sensitive or easily disturbed, think twice

It depends on your own children, but many will find this frightening and disturbing to watch. The previews showed only the cute, cuddly parts, and so were quite misleading. After an hour and a half, my 13-year-old daughter and I had to leave when the father polar bear was dying of starvation and it was too hard to watch. The movie is very long as well. It's one thing to watch predator/prey interaction, but to have it drawn out in slow motion with overly dramatic music is just more than we could take. There were also very beautiful parts of the movie, however, including a scene of a great white shark, birds of paradise, mandarin ducks, adelie penguins, etc. It's too bad they didn't edit this movie more carefully, tone down the music, and let up on the slow-motion, agonized suffering.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent of a 1 and 6 year old Written bylago mar April 25, 2009

What a disappointment - Requested a refund - read! Shocked by violence!

We left the theater at the request of my 7-year old, after watching gory scene depicting leppard catching its prey, sinking his teeth, in slow motion. This is from the company that brought us funny harmless cartoons. Was this scene absolutely necessary? Why don't they show animal slaughterhouse then, if main purpose was to demonstrate "full circle of life". What were they thinking? This movie started off beautifully - gorgeous images, music. Be warned - especially to the impressive types - perhaps I am still one - scenes depicting animal hunting could be extremely disturbing to little kids. Mother with boy that was approximately eight years old, that were sitting beside us, was covering his eyes when the leppard hunting scene was demonstrated. I can't say enough how disappointed I was with this movie. My boy was so excited to see that - he waited patiently until it was opened and then such a disappointment! He was almost crying! Upon leaving the theater, I immediately requested a refund!