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4.6 out of 5 stars39
4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: DVD|Change
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This is a short, two episode but thoroughly enjoyable series which uses recent paleontological discoveries - many of them from China - to tell the story of human evolution, from an alternative different angle to the normal approach.
Over two hours, Attenborough uses fossils, CGI, diagrams and filming of contemporary equivalents / offspring to illustrate the pathway from primitive fish, to amphibians and reptiles; then dinosaurs and birds; mammals, primates and finally us. Never one to hog the limelight he frequently involves the specialists who've revealed new knowledge, buried deep in ancient rock. The creatures featured range from tiny little fish to the megafauna; there's a detailed explanation of how and why humans ended up being warm-blooded placental mammals - not to mention how we got eyes, ears, lungs and so forth. Don't expect anything here to disagree with Darwin!

The filming, as you'd expect, is top-quality. It veers away from the pointlessly dramatic helicopter-filming-helicopter type shots (the sound-track is pretty low-key, too), but we're still treated to some gorgeous landscapes and an array of awesome fossil remains. The photography is mercifully free of that fashionable `blurred edge' soft-focus fad, which many documentary makers seem unable to resist at the moment...
Attenborough remains on top form. A bit less agile than he used to be, but still as engaging as ever; able to express complex concepts without patronising the audience or over-simplifying the subject.
Some of the animated sections are wonderfully wonky. The first flying dinosaur looks like it escaped from ToyStory, but the CGI of a wee skeletal rodent being brought to life to run around Attenborough's hand is ridiculously cute. Ditto the moment when a warm-blooded puppy does its best to play with a cold-blooded lizard in an inspired moment of table top filming to demonstrate the difference between the two.
I didn't find the map-of-evolution very helpful either, but then, it's not exactly a straightforward thing to try to represent all known species on a 2D timeline...

Short but very sweet, then: an admirable lesson to many film-makers in how to cram a huge amount of information into a petite package. Some people would have spun this out of six episodes and filled the gaps with endless repetition and 'presenter treks across Gobi desert' moments. Applause all round for an altogether more accomplished package - one which ably uses modern animation to make dry old bones entirely interesting.

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on 3 May 2014
Having seen many wildlife productions I was expecting more of the same but, no. This one is so educational that I only wish that it had been around when I was at school.

It shows the evolution of life and, although no doubt it be argued against, it shows where we came from. It's the most entertaining piece od documentary that I have ever watched.

Do yourself a favour and by it for your children. (And yourself)
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on 11 December 2013
Yet another excellent series from David Attenborough. Well written and plenty of content. As usual Attenborough has the knack of making potentially difficult subject matter comprehensible to the layman.
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on 8 January 2014
Never dissapointing. He is a brilliant communicator and it is perfect for all family members to see how the evolution of life in the planet took place.
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on 29 October 2013
very entertaining and well worth watching. Picture quality was excellent, and David Attenborough was once again interesting and informative. Remarkable considering his age!

Unfortunately, I have had to mark it down to four stars because there are no subtitles provided!
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on 3 November 2013
Outstanding romp through the history of animal evolution. Some amazing moments - first amphibian leaving the water etc. stunning - a must watch for Anyone with an interest in natural history.
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on 2 December 2013
David Attenborough once again is full of factual information that will simply explain a very complex ecosystem. Throughout time it explains the basics and complexities of the newest findings in the evolutionary tree
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on 4 December 2013
Poor deaf and hard of heraing people. Another great series issued with no subtitles. Is this some kind of a joke or what? How is this even possible nowadays?

The production Company spent hundreds of thousands of Dollars on the production of this series. Would it kill them to add a few more bucks on adding subtitles to the DVD release?

Don't buy this DVD. Show your support of the HOH community.
1414 comments|21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 7 January 2015
An excellent and informative series full of interesting facts and little bits of information resulting from recent research.
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on 13 January 2014
excellent product, can't wait to watch it again, so entertaining and so much to learn, recommended for the whole family.
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