Life On Our Planet (2023) Season 1 Review – Underwhelming and frustratingly mediocre

Season 1

 

 

Episode Guide

The Rules of Life
The First Frontier
Invaders of the Land
In Cold Blood
In the Shadow of Giants
Out of the Ashes
Inheriting the Earth
Age of Ice and Fire

One word can describe the entirety of Life on Our Planet’s 8 episode run – deja vu. While watching through the different episodes, you can’t help but feeling the niggling itch that you’ve seen all of this before. And even worse, in better forms elsewhere.

Netflix’s latest docu-series takes clear inspiration from Planet Earth, Walking With Dinosaurs and Attenborough’s latest sensation, Prehistoric Planet, to produce a show that basically rehashes the same story about Earth’s history in a more haphazard and somewhat convoluted manner.

The story here basically tells its story in two different lines – the past and the present. Each episode constantly cuts back and forth between these two time periods, trying to juxtapose how life has evolved through a thematic idea of “rules of life” and evolution as a whole.

Unfortunately, the end result is somewhat scattered and feels more like a hyperactive child running between exhibits in a museum without stopping to ask why or really dive into the necessary know-how needed to get the most out of each part.

Some of the issues are exacerbated by the narration, which is overly dramatic and littered with hyperbolic statements. With Morgan Freeman in the driving seat, there are unending platitudes including a particular favourite of “everything will change forever”. Honestly, take a shot every time a statement like this is made and you’ll find yourself drunk before you’re even halfway into the series!

But then the actual content here isn’t much better either. There’s no deep science, diagrams or even explanation around things like why the carbon dioxide levels increased during extinction events. This isn’t helped by the aforementioned focus, which is, well, unfocused. That jump between past and present does this absolutely no favours when a more concise, simple timeline of events would have worked a lot more effectively.

But then that’s the catch-22 isn’t it? Because in doing that, you’re effectively rehashing what’s already been done. Walking With Dinosaurs I already mentioned but even Walking With Beasts managed to effectively showcase this too. And although the visual effects here aren’t bad, this very clearly doesn’t have the same budget as AppleTV+’s project either.

But then how do you stand out from a sea of other nature documentaries out there on the same topic? This is entertaining no doubt, but we’ve come to expect more from our nature docu-series by now – especially given Netflix have a wealth of these on their own platform.

Life On Our Planet is as mediocre and empty as its own title, which ironically isn’t even original, given David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet came out several years back! This one isn’t bad, but it’s underwhelming and forgettable, which is perhaps even worse.


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  • Verdict - 5.5/10
    5.5/10
5.5/10

1 thought on “Life On Our Planet (2023) Season 1 Review – Underwhelming and frustratingly mediocre”

  1. I wholeheartedly agree. My bewilderment has only deepened as I’ve progressed to Episode 5. There was a moment when I even questioned whether there was more than a single “Age of Dinosaurs…” The narration continually echoes phrases like “then the dinosaurs emerged,” “ushering in the Age of Dinosaurs,” and “then the Age of Dinosaurs dawned,” or variations thereof left me momentarily perplexed… While the visuals are undeniably stunning, the storytelling leaves much to be desired. Frustrating mess.

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