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The BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs series has a lot to answer for and has had several spin off programs. However this time things are a little different. This series is shortly to be aired on the BBC and then I believe one of the Discovery channels will be devoting a whole day to this computer generated documentary. We have already seen what happened in the past. Now it is time to see what might happen (dramatic pause) in the world of tomorrow!

Future is Wild, The

The Series
Five million years is a long time by anyone standards. By this time the planet will have changed shape. Planet earth is four and a half billion years old with life in its various guises being around for three and a half billion of these years. But if humans suddenly disappeared the Earth would still turn and life would continue – I believe Jeff Goldblum said it best in Jurassic Park – “Life will find a way”.

This program forms the basis of an experiment in imagination – one possible course for the future of life on earth. These “future worlds” were created by scientists from around the world, specialists in aspects of biology, geology and climatology. They were asked to combine scientific principles with inspired imagination. This is the result.

So how do we know these creatures could exist? Well as Professor Stephen Palumbi from Harvard University points out, if you didn’t know about a rhinoceros would you have drawn one? Evolution can generate animals with an incredible lifestyle for unbelievable habitats.

Five million years in the future the Earth is frozen. Arctic conditions prevail as the ice sheets extend as far south as Paris and while foxes and bears are long extinct, there are strange animals that can survive in these conditions.

One hundred million years in the future opens with some spectacular oceanic scenes featuring an enormous jellyfish which is actually a hybrid creature made from a colony on smaller jellyfish. Coral is now extinct, but it has now been replaced by a red algae. This leads on to life in the swamp, and a herbivore tortoise the size of an elephant – and that’s just the baby!

Two hundred million years in the future the continents have again rejoined to form once again, a super continent. This disc features heavily on creatures from the ocean and therefore was my favourite disc. The evolution of the sharks was both scary and worrying and if I live to be 200 million years old, I will still be staying out of the water. However, I find it a little hard to believe that the so called “Flish” would look quite like that, even if the characteristics of the animal are scientifically sound.

Future is Wild, The

The predictions are almost always backed up by taking examples from the more extreme side of today’s wildlife which makes them seem a lot more believable and really turns this series into not a random stab in the dark, but into a potentially very accurate look at our planet after we have left.

The whole series is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and as expected both the video and audio section for all three discs is the same. The video is essentially divided up into two distinct parts – the CG world and its animals and the live interviews. The CG world is as you would expect, well presented with bold colours and zero artefacts however the transfer does not come across as being as epic looking as for instance the Pixar animated Toy Story. A little grainy in places, the image overall is clean but not very sharp as animators have attempted to make animals look as real as the backdrops they are set against. It’s amazing what quality levels even documentaries can achieve in this day and age.  

Future is Wild, The

Surprisingly all three discs feature a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack. Most of the time the surround sound field is just used for music or ambient noises in for instance, a jungle environment. Predominantly vocally driven, speech is clearly presented to the listener which is the most important thing in features such as these. Ambient music features throughout almost all of the presentations which nicely adds to the atmosphere each new landscape provides.

There does appear to be a decent selection of extra features on each disc with however the review copies we received are German and therefore the extra features are all written and voiced in German making it quite hard to work out what is going on in terms of extra features. The first disc’s Extra Features menu has seven different sections and while some were useless to my non-German speaking form, the 3D Animations section was quite good and the Sound Gallery was quite fun. There also appeared to be some PR about the next two discs and then the trailers for these discs. This theme was followed throughout all three discs.

One extra present on all three discs is best described as a “Follow the White Rabbit” style feature in which the silhouette of a creature appears on screen. Hitting ENTER on the remote control takes the viewer to text information regarding that creature with a spinning 3D model. A nicely implemented feature which unfortunately only occurs two or three times an episode. This can be turned on or off via the menu system. I have rated the extra features on these discs as best I can without understanding the language they are presented in. If in English I am sure I would rate them higher but without English source material I cannot rate what I cannot see.

Future is Wild, The

A highly enjoyable series providing an interesting look at the planet in a way we will never know. Every part of the evolution has been carefully thought about and backed up by today’s environment. The CG animals and plant life is well done and the discs are presented cleanly and with care. When these make it to TV, they are going to be watched and enjoyed by millions of people nationwide. Enjoyable and educational.