Using a vast working 3D virtual earth within an enormous hangar, Richard Hammond's 'Journey to the Centre of the Planet' is a visual feast, superbly illustrating the earth as an extraordinary piece of engineering: the huge fiery power ball at its centre, the source of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes that continue to shape the earth's surface.
'What would happen,' asks Richard Hammond, the personable narrator of events, 'if we lifted up Trafalgar Square?' Through visual imagery, layers of the earth are seemingly peeled back, transporting the viewer stage by stage through its different layers, while Hammond, like a diminutive conjurer, appears to float through space on a hydraulic platform, silhouetted against a giant rotating earth.
As a complete non expert in the areas of geography, science and geophysics, this is the perfect documentary! Sophisticated technology and story tale language are blended with spectacular effects and stunning locations. Take, as one example, the Nyiragongo Volcano of the Rift Valley in the heart of Africa. At the bottom of the volcanic crater is a boiling lake of lava 750 feet across: the temperature on its boiling, turbulent surface a mere breeze at 800 degrees centigrade. Watch one intrepid, many, would say reckless, member of an exploratory team, head for the lake's fiery rim.... All in the interest of research of course.
For the specialist, despite the technical wizardry, the information is fairly basic and nothing new will be revealed. I suspect, however that for many, this will be thoroughly enjoyable viewing.
I, for one, will certainly be watching it again!