Chris Connor reviews Prehistoric Planet…
Walking With Dinosaurs was a landmark achievement in 1999 providing incredible visuals and delivering the latest information available on the world of the dinosaurs, informing younger audiences and providing a sense of scale and effects previously unseen on TV. Narrated by Kenneth Branagh, the series was followed by two follow-up series, Walking With Beasts which told the story of life after the dinosaurs, and Walking With Monsters which focused on the earliest forms of life on Earth and culminated with the start of the Triassic age.
The team behind the Walking With franchise have returned with a jaw dropping new series Prehistoric Planet taking place in the late Cretaceous period. Narrated by David Attenborough, the series employs the latest scientific research and the visual techniques from 2016’s The Jungle Book and 2019’s The Lion King. Perhaps it should be no surprise therefore that Jon Favreau, the architect of those two films and The Mandalorian, is involved as an Executive Producer. Ultimately it is the scope and remarkable visuals that should make this feel more than just another nature series. The sense of Hollywood production is furthered by the involvement of Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer.
Rather than feeling like a carbon copy of the Walking With series, the series feels distinctively its own beast and Attenborough’s involvement makes it feel more akin to the Planet Earth series from 2006 and 2016, the creatives behind that series including Mike Gunton are involved in Prehistoric Planet so this feels like an apt comparison. The series brings the global sense of scale of those shows while feeling its own entity, and the visuals help make this feel incredibly immersive and lifelike, the feathers on the pteradons and velociraptors are so lifelike some viewers may double take.
As with Planet Earth each episode here whisks us off to a different corner of the world inhabited by the dinosaurs from coasts, deserts, harsh and bitterly cold ice worlds and forests. The balance between the latest scientific research, with consultants involved and the latest CGI ensure this is an absolutely spellbinding showcase of the evolution of perhaps natures most famous extinct creatures. Our obsession with all things Jurassic or Cretaceous shows no signs of abating and this series should please even those with a more casual interests in all things dinosaur related, the series has the power to truly capture the imagination and inform in a way few previous series have managed.
With the rate of dinosaur related discoveries, the series feels on the pulse of the latest science and one can imagine future programmes will employ the techniques seen here as we develop the ability to glimpse parts of these worlds never seen before. The series sees us engage with familiar dinosaurs like the T-Rex but of course a host of new dinosaurs that have been discovered in the years since Walking With Dinosaurs like the winged Hatzegopteryx. As both our understanding of the world and technology continue to evolve, one can only imagine the scale future series might employ but for now we should appreciate the insane visuals and immersive quality on display here making the world feel tangible and lifelike.
Prehistoric Planet is another success for Apple TV+ and a groundbreaking endeavour for the BBC’s Natural History department in a cross-Atlantic project that isn’t just empty spectacle. It has a real scientific value and hopefully will be seen by as wide an audience as possible to further our understanding of the world the dinosaurs walked in. The series is a five-part must see event with episodes airing over consecutive nights from the 23rd-27th May.