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Walking With Prehistoric Beasts

Kenneth Branagh , Stockard Channing    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 81.80
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Walking With Prehistoric Beasts + Walking With Cavemen + Walking with Monsters: Before the Dinosaurs
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Product Details

Product Description


Imagine a National Geographic survey of a natural world that hasn't existed for millions of years. The sequel to the mesmerizing Walking with Dinosaurs, one of the most imaginative explorations of the prehistoric world ever made, once again uses the technology of the Jurassic Park fantasies to re-create the "menagerie of weird and wonderful creatures" that roamed the globe after the dinosaurs. Designed as a series of survival dramas, each of the six episodes plays like a speculative Disney True Life Adventure (with appropriately resolute narration by Kenneth Branagh) centered around a day in the life of a creature or the seasonal cycle of a species: a pride of saber tooth cats, a herd of woolly mammoths, a tribe of hominids. It's all supposition, of course, but it's supposition based on the best research available. The BBC production, which does not shy away from this violent world, includes computer-animated footage of mating and hunting techniques. However, any prehistory fan 7 or older should enjoy this series. --Sean Axmaker

Special Features

Don't get hung up on the "Making of" appellation branded onto the documentaries Triumph of the Beasts and The Beasts Within. These 50-minute productions are less about getting it made than getting it right; they explain the science and speculation behind the production. Scientists share their discoveries, offer their theories, and show off fossils in an effort to explain what we know of the distant past and how we know it. A supplemental "fact file" provides thumbnail profiles on every creature featured in the series, and a photo gallery offers a second look at the beasties. For those viewers more interested in the how than the why, there are six animated storyboard galleries and 23 minutes of interviews with the producers and animators. It's a perfect companion for the program, serious enough to tackle the issues of scientific speculation and spiked with a little humor just to keep it fun. --Sean Axmaker

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Walking with Prehistoric Beasts is an interesting series for lovers of natural history.
One would think that someone who does Shakespeare well should be able to get a nature show narration right, but it's obvious that paleozoology isn't Kenneth Branagh's passion, and both here and in Walking with Dinosaurs one sometimes hears that he is reading a badly-rehearsed (and occasionally poorly-written) script. Sir David Attenborough with his authority and enthusiasm would have been perfect for the job, and I was a bit surprised that such a major BBC fronting didn't feature his legendary voice and employed his singular talent in writing nature show narrations.
That aside, I enjoyed it both visually and from the educational point of view, even more so than Walking with Dinosaurs as this is a period of time that we, due to the dino craze, have heard far too little about in the major public channels before (would a film called Eocene Park be a great hit?).
I particularly enjoyed learning more about the origin of whales with the incorporation of the recent fossil findings of the ambulocetus.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Six-Star film! June 12 2003
I really LOVED "Walking with Prehistoric Beasts," and cannot recommend this documentary enough! This show will appeal to fans of nature documentaries who would like to view a researched but (fictional) account of the lives of ancient mammals. This series starts off at about 65 million years ago with the demise of the dinosaurs, and ends about 30 million years ago, with the demise of the Neanderthals. The animation and animatronics are so well done, so detailed that at times I forgot I was watching computer animation and animatronics. In particular, I loved the scenes with the saber-toothed cats, the hyeanadons and the ancient whales. Oh, and who can forget the andrewsarchus?
The narrator does an excellent job of describing each era, the animal life, the flora and fauna, and the climate change and how it impacts the animal populace. Creatures spring to life on the screen eating, drinking, fighting, dying, and yes even (mating).
Caveats: First: I wish the documentary had gone into a bit more detail with early homo sapiens and Neanderthals. I felt the impact of these early humans on their environment wasn't fully explored. Second: About the only scenes I saw where the animation was left than perfect, was where/when the animals fed. The chewing and eating motions didn't seem quite right. The early chimp-like humans were picking nits. But the nits never seemed to quite make it INTO the mouths. Etc.
Finally, one word of caution, while this did not bother me, some sensitive viewers and young children, might have trouble with repeat scenes of graphic violence, and animal death. Even though its animation, it is very realistically portrayed and no punches are pulled. This is not a movie intended for young children( although mature children will love it).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sure, you know of Saber-Toothed Cats... Jan. 7 2004
and the Woolly Mammoth. But how about the Leptictidium? A tiny early mammal. A tiny meat eater the size of a cat, who has to keep clear of the top predator of her time, the Gastornis, a flightless bird as big as a man and just as hungry!
Or how about the Andrewsarchus, a five meter long wolf-like creature with bone crunching jaws over three feet long and related to the whale. In fact it BECAME the whales!
This is a two DVD set. The first holds six amazing episodes about six different periods of Earth's history, from right after the death of the dinosaurs to just before man starts to rule the planet. The second holds lots of fun extras: interviews, TWO 50 minute long behind-the-scene featurettes, photos, fact files and even storyboards.
Really helps fill in that space between dinosaurs and us. A must for any DVD library!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Follow-Up to a Great Series June 11 2003
With the enormous success of "Walking with Dinosaurs", it was only natural that Framestore and the BBC would follow-up that series with the age after the dinosaurs. "Walking with Prehistoric Beasts" is that series. In fact, this is the series that Executive Producer Tim Haines wanted to do, even more than "Walking with Dinosaurs".
My first experience with this series was in London with the episode "Whale Killer". I knew then that this was something I wanted to see when it came across the "pond", and it was something I wanted to buy. It was a little disappointing that Stockard Channing, not Avery Brooks, narrated the Discovery Channel version, but she does a fair job. However, one would be better off buying the video version than taping the series off Discovery.
The video version is the original version that aired in the UK, with Kenneth Branagh's original narration. As with "Walking with Dinosaurs", Branagh's narration is greatly superior to Channing or Brooks', though one has to remember that Branagh isn't working with a script written for a version that is chopped up to accomidate the slighty stricter US censors and commercial time. And the video has the *complete*, uncut episodes from the original BBC airing. The animation continues from "Dinosaurs" and appears just as realistic, despite the added difficulty of rendering fur and feathers!
Although this is a excellent series, there are certain flaws that prevent the series from getting five stars. The animatronics continue to be, IMHO, of a lesser quality than the animation; they still look like rubber puppets. This is perhaps at it's most glaring in the fourth episode, with the early humans. The humans in that episode, despite more than adequate animation, just don't "feel" real, either animated or animatrionic.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars wonderful
if you like prehistoric dinosaurs ... the family will love this video ... i have watched them repeatly ... nice
Published 17 months ago by Gregory A. Boshaw
4.0 out of 5 stars Listen Everyone!
Walking With Prehistoric Beasts Dvd is great to watch. The background music is not my favorite. If I could change it I would. Read more
Published on Aug. 3 2011 by My View
5.0 out of 5 stars Great DVD!
It's a great one for kids who love prehistoric animals. My 6-year-old hasn't stopping watching it since we received it a month ago.
Published on July 8 2010 by Z. Kathy Liu
5.0 out of 5 stars So, what happened between the dinosaurs and us?
This series fills in the blanks. We all know what happened to the dinosaurs--they died out 65 Million years ago. Read more
Published on May 1 2008 by Matthew West
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Walking with Dinos
Just as good as the previous BBC "Walking With Dinos" series, and in our opinion, even better! My kids really liked seeing the variety of mamals - "the big, the bad, and the ugly"... Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting, great Walking with Dinosaurs companion
If you liked Walking with Dinosaurs, this video makes a good companion piece. You get the same fascinating computer animated and animatronic reconstructions, though in this case of... Read more
Published on Nov. 5 2002 by A. Burchfield
2.0 out of 5 stars Birds get no respect
I don't recall anyone ever saying that the entire Phorusrhacidae was out-competed and driven into extinction by one genus of sabercat. Read more
Published on Sept. 19 2002 by W. Svensen
5.0 out of 5 stars a Serious look at the worlds that were
I finally got the third instalment of the "walking with" series. I couldn't wait til this film was released on DVD when I caught it on Discovery channel. Read more
Published on Aug. 29 2002 by talos72
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific
Before I say anything else -- please don't forget to look at my recommendations for further learning, toward the bottom of my review. Read more
Published on July 25 2002 by absent_minded_prof
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