I’ve always found it particularly challenging to review documentaries that receive a theatrical release – by virtue of its candidness, it’s challenging to look at it subjectively. So lets take a look at the latest offering from BBC nature.
Narrated by Daniel Craig, One Life looks at several, very different species and proves that no matter who you are or where you come from, all animals (yes, we are animals) all walk the same journey. One Life’s hook is how it dramatises the scenes, adding a very human quality to the wild beasts that walk the Earth – it’s been done before multiple times, most recently in African Cats, but it works because it makes all the creatures relatable and it does this well by a good albeit run of the mill selection of animals.
In fact, in my opinion the lack of fully new selection is probably the biggest downfall of the production – that and the choice of Daniel Craig is a bit odd. There were a few jokes as well by virtue of the quirkiness of the animal being exhibited, one particular example that comes to mind is when a beetle runs a gauntlet of competing males to claim his mate at the top, leaving his defeated foes plummeting to the forest floor from the precariously perched position on a high tree branch. It adds variety to the cheetahs, monkey’s and whales that otherwise are the main attraction.
What always draws me to see nature docs in cinemas is the experiencing animals on a large scale screen – it’s the major selling point and this combined with the gorgeous visuals makes it a treat (that and the modest running time). At least I believe it’s gorgeous, from my experience at the viewing that I went to, the projectionist obviously hadn’t set up the equipment correctly and therefore at many times was a blurry, grainy mess of a movie. Nevertheless, I can imagine that displayed correctly, One Life is a visual treat.
The cuteness will steal you money!
This one is definitely for the nature lovers, the poster shows cheetahs on it but they only feature in a small capacity so don’t base your decisions on that. That said, avid nature documentary watchers probably won’t walk away with anything truly revolutionary – as said, it’s beautifully shot but then again most doccys these days are. If you’re new to these sort of films, this is a great first step and for many children it might be – as an introduction, One Life is perfect.
The Bottom Line
One Life ultimately is an acceptable entry into the long line of BBC nature films, it’s a little uninspired and the music is bit on the repetitive side. I don’t believe that Daniel Craig was the best choice for narrator, perhaps a voice with a bit more body would have been more suitable (but I guess they had to use a big name to draw in audiences). It’s also strictly censored in terms of “violence” so if you have any youngsters, this film is pretty family friendly. Enjoyable but not monumental in its stature.