13 October 2017 | TheLittleSongbird
The humanity of environmental and human life
'Human Planet' is a hugely informative and exceptionally well-made series. Inevitable, though some may argue unfair, comparisons may be (have been in fact) made to the output of David Attenborough, to me 'Human Planet' is one of the better documentary series in recent years to not have Attenborough's name on it and stands wonderfully on its own, if just lacking the special magic of Attenborough's best work.
There are so many great things here in 'Human Planet'. Its premise is dealt with exceptionally in every single episode, the environments, how they're lived in, how the humans adapt to the environments, the human struggles and how it all affects the environment are all interesting topics and important ones handled truly admirably. Also in a way that is illuminating but not preachy (which is a potential danger with anything environmental-themed and a danger often fallen into).
When it comes to how it's written, 'Human Planet' does just as good a job entertaining and teaching, it's all very sincerely done and it never feels like a sermon. There are things here that are common sense and knowledge but one is taught a huge deal as well.
John Hurt's (RIP) narration delivery is similarly spot-on, very sensitively delivered and very dignified in a distinctively John Hurt way. Arguments may be made about Attenborough being a much better choice, to me Hurt was perfect and more than held his own and although Attenborough is the master of nature/life documentaries today he can't do every single one made.
Visually, 'Human Planet' may lack the awe-inspiring, almost cinematic quality of Attenborough's best work. With that being said, it is beautifully shot, shot in a fluid, graceful and never static way, and is chock-full of strikingly memorable images. In every episode, the scenery and environments (which include oceans, deserts, the Arctic, jungles, grasslands, rivers and cities) are like characters of their own, they're all gorgeous to look at and have a lot of atmosphere.
Every episode is appropriately scored, never intrusive or too low-key, and the different stories are powerful in a harrowing and poignant way, not to mention very honest.
In summary, exceptionally well-made and educational, well worth watching if just falling short of masterpiece status. 9/10 Bethany Cox