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4.6 out of 5 stars85
4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: Blu-ray|Change
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I'll start the review with the bad. First, it's not entirely in 1080p. It's 720p or 1080i. So while it'd HD, it's not entirely Blu-ray. The image quality is still fantastic, although I think Planet Earth was slightly better in spots. Overall though, you probably won't notice on anything other than the biggest of home TVs/projectors. Second, this series is a bit repetitious in that the first episode is a preview of all the upcoming episode. That made it a bit of filler for me. Finally, there's not as much breadth or depth as there are in the other Attenborough BBC series. For example, Planet Earth had more breadth, while Life of Mammals/Plants/Birds etc. each had more individual depth.

So why the five stars? Well, that's quite simply because what's in here is literally awesome. The footage is brilliant, the animals and plants are compelling, the science is fascinating, and Sir David Attenborough is the best there is at nature narration (sorry Oprah!). If all you've seen is the Discovery version of this show, with Oprah narrating, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the difference a pro like Attenborough can make. But regardless of the version, it's Life that's the real show. From cheetahs, to plants, to frogs, to killer whales, the plants and animals in this series do not disappoint in their ways of surviving and reproducing. Richard Dawkins wrote a recent book on evolution called "The Greatest Show on Earth". This series should be labelled the same! Nature, in all its glory, is just endlessly fascinating and amazing to watch.

Overall, this series is a perfect introduction into the world of nature documentaries. Other BBC/Attenborough series might offer more depth, breadth, and even (for some) slightly better resolution, but this DVD series still delivers a ton of fresh content that provides hours of really, really fascinating viewing. Highly recommended!
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Here is the breakdown in the differences between the UK and US versions of LIFE:

1) Narrator: UK version, by David Attenborough, while US version, by Oprah Winfrey. I personally prefer David Attenborough's skilled narration. He is perfect at describing various scenes without his voice becoming the primary focus. This round goes to UK version.
2) Video: UK version, completely 1080p except "Plants", while US version, completely 1080i. This round goes to UK version, hands down.
3) Functionality: US version is far superior in selecting episodes than UK version
4) Packaging: Covers for US version are more busy, but in the end, it depends on your own personal taste.

For me, 1080p and the very comforting voice of David Attenborough made my purchase of the UK version a very easy decision. Since I watch each episode completely each time around, I do not mind the less superior functionality of the UK version. The front cover is no issue to me.

Contents: From the BBC Earth series, Planet Earth in 2006 brought us the world as we've never seen before. Now we get closer with Life. As stated on the package, four years in the making, filmed over 3000 days, across every continent and in every habitat, with breathtaking new high definition filming techniques developed since Planet Earth, Life presents 130 incredible stories from the frontiers of the natural world, housed in 4 BD-50 discs. The topics included (1) Challenges of Life, (2) Reptiles and Amphibians, (3) Mammals, (4) Fish, (5) Birds, (6) Insects, (7) Hunters and Hunted, (8) Creatures of the Deep, (9) Plants, and (10) Primates. It was truly a totally enjoyable and learning experience. Like a good book, one can watch it continuously to the end. The new feature in this set is the Life on location at the end of each episode. It gave me a deeper appreciation of how these remarkable videos were taken.

Video: It was filmed in 1080p and 1.78:1. If you think Planet Earth was outstanding, wait until you watch Life. The video was truly spectacular with razor-sharp images. The blacks were inky black. The colour was vibrant and natural. I particularly enjoyed the slow-motion camera shots, where details of every hair on the animal or drops from splashes of the ocean waves could be seen. Avatar may give us crisp images and vibrant colour (CGI images), but Life here presents us with the perfectly natural images: real animals in their natural habitat. Some frames were so wonderful that they looked like a piece of art. (5++/5).

Audio: The DTS HD audio here is also equally awesome. The natural sound of the animals was very well recorded and produced, very realistic indeed. The sound of buzzing of flies was so realistic that I put my hand up trying to brush them off. The background music by George Fenton was also very well done, appropriate to the scenes. The background music never intrudes into the video. (5/5)

This Life set is a truly remarkable experience. One will lose the impact if you watch this on standard DVD or on the Discovery Channel. This blu ray set is the only way to appreciate how fantastic video and audio will give one a truly ultimate rewarding experience. In my home theatre with a 12 foot wide screen and anamorphic lens, one can see every minute detail in the pictures, and the sound was very enveloping from my 9 speakers. I will give this Life set (blu ray) my highest recommendation. You won't regret it.
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on June 9, 2010
The Movie itself:
No one is even close to BBC's Natural History Team's dedication, cinematography and expertise when it comes to Nature & Wildlife filming. The team that gave us The Blue Planet (2001) & Planet Earth (2006) return to us with perhaps their most daunting adventure. If you thought they couldn't top Planet Earth's filming & beautiful orchestras, well they did exactly that. Approximately 3,000 hours of shooting with specialized slow motion cameras specifically designed for the task, transform on the screen to some of the most magical footage I have ever witnessed on my television.
The Video:
1080p video is simply spectacular. There is only one word to describe it. Some of the close up shots of little insects and coral reefs are so vividly coloured that it made me wonder, is this really true? Or BBC's Cg team has done some marvellous work and they are marketing it as a Nature Documentary. There are some shots under the water, which suffer a little and appear to be soft. But that's understandable given that chasing "The Heat Run" of Killer Whales was considered impossible before this video.
The Audio:
If I didn't like one thing about Planet Earth, it was the lack of HD Audio. Well BBC certainly went on to fix that in this series. DTSHD-MA audio is as filling as the video. The channels are very perfectly balanced and LFE/Subwoofer kicks in precisely when it needs to add the extra punch. Narration is fully dedicated to centre channel with David Attenborough's soothing voice giving it the final touch.
Final Words:
A lot has been said about the two different versions of this documentary available in US & Canada. The discovery channel version is narrated by Oprah Winfrey while the original BBC version (this one) is narrated by David Attenborough. Sir Attenborough is a living legend in his own right, so why replace him? I could think of only one reason, all the references to weight, temperature, measurement are in Metric system, which the vast majority of Americans don't understand. Either way, it seems like a poor marketing decision. Do yourself a favour and pick up this version narrated by David Attenborough; you will watch it time and again for years to come. HD TV sets and Blu-Ray were made for this type of content. Must Have, Highly Recommended.
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on June 12, 2010
Oprah is good at a lot of things, but NOT good at narration. Through the whole series she sounds like she's reading a bedtime story to a five-year-old. It's very irritating and actually takes away from the brilliance of this amazing documentary. Stick with the David Attenborough version - there's no one better than he at narrating nature documentaries!
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on January 19, 2011
Once, many years ago, after a night-out at a local bar, my friends and I were walking home. It was 3AM and we were hungry. Luckily we found a late-night deli. I ordered a BLT (Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato) sub-sandwich.

I was anticipating crisp lettuce, fresh tomatoes and crispy bacon. The perfect late-night snack. To my compete shock, I was instead delivered slightly-brown, soggy lettuce, sprinkled with 'simulated' bacon-bits and (instead of tomatoes) a blob of ketchup. The result was so unexpectedly wrong, that the reasoning parts of my brain shut down. Rather than demanding my money back, I thanked the proprietor, left the deli and deposited the sandwich in the first trash-can I found. To this day, that sandwich stands out as the worst "meal" I've ever had.

Recently I bought a new BluRay player along the box set of BBC's Planet Earth and Life on BluRay. Planet Earth was stunning and was the original UK version, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. "Life", on the other hand immediately reminded of that wretched sandwich, so many years ago. On the surface the ingredient list seemed comparable, but the end product was so much worse.

The cinematography is spectacular, but Oprah's narration completely ruins the presentation. It's not even the same script! If I close my eyes, it feels like I'm watching a 6 year old present a science-fair project (apologies to all 6 year old budding scientists). Some movies come with labels "Close-Captioned for the Hearing Impaired". This should have come with the warning "Narrated by Oprah Winfrey, for idiots".

The only redeeming quality: the making-of special features are narrated by Sir David, and there is an alternate audio track that retains the music and ambient sound effects, but disables narration. You heard me right, a 'professionally narrated' nature documentary, with the option to disable narration. It warms my heart to think that someone at BBC/Discovery knew what kind of turd they had, and snuck-in this feature at the last-minute. "Oops, My elbow was on the mixer-board. I seem to have accidentally muted the vocals". To that anonymous production engineer, I say "Thank You!"

Do not (even consider) buying this version!

Get the original version instead: Life (original UK version) [Blu-ray]
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on June 2, 2010
This has to be one of the best documentary series I've ever seen. The attention to detail on the creatures they observe at the time is amazing.
I'd been waiting for this series to come out on dvd/blu-ray for a while and was debating between getting the Blu-Ray set or the DVD. I chose the Blu-Ray set and was it ever worth it. The picture and audio quality is amazing and a member of my family saw a scene with me and freaked at a scene involving a Chameleons tongue and they were grossed out by the detail of it and muttered "holy **** that's amazing".
This is a definite must-buy for documentary fans or even anyone in general interested in the creatures of our planet.
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on March 29, 2011
Planet Earth's 'sequel' proves itself a worthy successor to the greatest nature documentary ever filmed and one of the most visually stunning Blu Rays on the market. Whether you're into natural science or not this boxed set is a must own for anyone looking to show off their home theatre as it captures some of the most beautiful and surprising footage of our world that you'll ever see.

Life's virtues aren't limited to its visuals as it provides fascinating insight into the lengths various creatures go to in order to survive. Whether it's hunting, defense, mating, or child rearing, the stories (wonderfully narrated by David Attenborough) will keep you captivated throughout. The one criticism I'll offer is that the first episode feels a bit like filler as it reuses a lot of footage from the rest of the series, but with every disc so packed with fascinating content this is an easy sin to forgive.


Each episode is accompanied by the making of featurette that's smartly integrated before the closing credits. You can skip them and still feel like you've seen the whole show, but I highly recommend against it as the lengths the crew went to for some of this footage is as fascinating as the footage itself.


Anyone claiming that this isn't the finest looking Blu Ray available needs to have their TV adjusted. The lessons learned on Planet Earth and three years of work have crafted the best looking set imaginable.

Bottom Line

Life is, effectively, a more polished version of Planet Earth that focuses exclusively on animal behavior. If you're familiar with the earlier set and didn't watch it just for the vistas then this purchase should be a no brainer. Even people who don't like documentaries need to give this set a shot. It's the finest piece of infotainment you can buy.
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on September 15, 2010
This is every bit as good as Planet Earth, with a specific focus on how different species have unique strategies for survival.

I believe some of the footage was used from the other BBC "Life in..." series (Life in the Undergrowth, Life in Cold Blood, etc.), so if you've watched all those you may feel like you've seen some of this already. The narration, however is new as far as I can tell.

Like Planet Earth, it's got the same amazing photography and the same great narration by naturalist David Attenborough (although the American edition has Oprah narrating instead). The BluRay looks amazing on a high def TV, and each episode has its own behind-the-scenes segment exploring how they got all their spectacular footage.

In short, if you loved Planet Earth you're sure to love this.
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on June 4, 2010
Just like with Planet Earth, the footage in Life is simply astounding! The time-lapse and slow motion scenes are stunning and incredible to watch. The Earth is truly a magnificent place and BBC Life does an amazing job at capturing that. Additionally, the narration is fantastic (as always, with Attenborough).

And to my surprise, included on the disc is a rather thorough video and audio calibration utility, available in both a "Standard" narrated step-by-step method or an "Advanced" method, allowing you to manually go through various test patterns and such. This is a great addition to the set, and allows you to make sure you get the best experience out of it, and not to mention all other content you watch on your home theater afterwards! Utilities like this are usually sold in retail stores for roughly the same price as a Blu-Ray movie, so it's very nice to have it included.

Highly recommended, five stars!

(As others have said, I highly recommend the UK version narrated by Attenborough as opposed to the US version narrated by Oprah.)
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on May 30, 2010
The original UK version narrated by david Attenborough is far superior to the one narrated by Oprah Winfrey. Oprah is good at a lot of things, but she is NOT a good narrator.
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