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  • Consider the first 'Planet Earth' one of the finest documentaries ever made and one of the best series ever made on anything. A perfect representation of what makes David Attenborough so deservedly highly regarded and his remarkably consistent body of work (even his lesser work is still good) as delightful as it is.

    'Planet Earth II' is every bit as exceptional (even if not quite ground-breaking) and easily a 2016 television highlight, its acclaim is more than deserved. Its first episode "Islands" couldn't have been a more ideal start, meeting and exceeding incredibly high expectations. This may be reiterating what has been said many times about Attenborough's work, but pretty much everything he's done, even those that are not quite masterpiece status, has consistently the same strengths so it's unavoidable. Throughout it's an awe-inspiring, utterly transfixing experience where one forgets they're watching a documentary and instead feeling like they're watching art, that couldn't be higher praise for anything.

    "Islands" for starters looks amazing. It is gorgeously filmed, done in a completely fluid and natural, sometimes intimate (a great way of connecting even more with the animals), way and never looking static. In fact much of it is remarkably cinematic. The scenery and island habitat are simply spectacular, the rich colours just leap out. For a composer that composes normally bombastic, rousing and pulse-racing music that is epic even in the quieter moments, Hans Zimmer's music here is a remarkably good fit. It's unmistakably Zimmer in style but throughout it not only complements the visuals but enhances them. The main theme is impossible to forget.

    What of the narrative aspects? Can't fault "Islands" in this aspect either. The narration has a great well-balanced mix of facts that will be familiar to the viewer and others that will induce the right amount of surprise. In short, it's just fascinating, informative and thoughtful.

    Nothing but credit is due too for adhering to what made 'Planet Earth' work the first time and then bringing a freshness with a few nice ideas to avoid it being too stale. Attenborough delivers all this information beautifully in a way only he can achieve, there's a soft-spoken enthusiasm, sincerity and precision about his delivery and he never preaches while knowing what to say and how and when to say it.

    The animals are a mix of cute and menacing. Love the iguanas and they are clearly "Islands" biggest highlights of an episode with a great many.

    Like Attenborough's best work, "Islands" and 'Planet Earth II' in general feels like its own individual story and never feels episodic or repetitive. There are real, complex emotions and conflicts and animal characters developed in a way a human character would in a film but does it better than several.

    Overall, as perfect a first episode of an exceptional series as one can get. 10/10 Bethany Cox
  • Sir David and BBC are back at it again with an even better production quality, and a much more 'consuming' experience. "It's like the Planet Earth (2006), but better in many ways!" Hans Zimmer's soundtrack also takes it to a whole other level, and even though you are looking at the beautiful Planet Earth, the experience seems out of this world. It's all beautiful, but there is nearly always one standout O-M-G did-you-see? scene in these Attenborough shows. The base- jumping goslings in Life Story a while back, for example. In this, it happens on the island of Fernandina. A marine iguana hatchling emerges from the sand and sets off on the journey to join the adults at the edge of the sea. Oh no, this kind of journey scares me. What's it going to be? From the side of the frame, something else appears, and keeps on appearing … snake! Then another, and another – racer snakes, and it soon becomes apparent how they got their name. These snakes are fast, and hungry, and they want baby iguana for breakfast. Overall, it's easily one of the best, if not THE BEST TV Show ever to have been produced, and everybody seems to love it, because it is impossible not to.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    If you're unfortunate enough to come across a review of mine for a nature documentary, I have to apologise for using the word 'thing' a lot, which is something I do. I love animals, and I love nature documentaries. But I'm terrible with the names of specific animals and locations. So I end up saying things like 'that thing that chased that thing in that place over there'.

    I've yet to complete Planet Earth. I've seen bits and pieces here and there, and a few whole episodes, but haven't sat down to watch the series in its entirety. Still, I was thrilled to hear the series would return on Sunday 06/11/16.

    As is the case with most documentaries with Attenborough involved, Planet Earth II's first episode was nothing short of breath-taking. Entitled 'Islands', it treats us to some amazing landscape and establishing shots. Some of the runtime is also used to present how lava naturally forms new land. Seeing the volcanic matter spew out of the ground in ultra HD is something to see.

    10 minutes or so are dedicated to a specific group of animals or a single animal in an area in the world, showcasing a slice of his or her life. Each of these segments brings something brilliant to the table. There are a number of great ones, one of which involves a swimming sloth, another showing the hardship of the life of penguins in taking care of their young, and an amusing one involving a type of bird who spends days waiting for his girlfriend to arrive on a date so they can get jiggy with it. The penguin story takes up a lot of the show's runtime and it's definitely worth it. Just seeing all those animals, thousands of them, all in the same frame is just incredible.

    By far the best segment is the one involving a group of baby iguanas who have just hatched. They raise their heads above the ground and make their way towards the rest of the groups towards the coast. However, between here and there lies a treacherous landscape, hiding an enemy. As one iguana makes its way across the grains, in the same shot a rapid 'racer' snake creepily follows it. Then another. And another. And tens of more. And you can see where they get the name 'racer' from, as those things can really shift. The first iguana makes it, but now the snakes are ready for the rest. The entire scene is incredibly tense. It's like a Hollywood chase scene. Actually, scratch that, it's better. Some of the shots they managed to pull off were mesmerising. It's awesome how they managed to form a coherent story from the images which in turn complements just how great the footage was in the first place. Seeing the iguanas run for their lives as the snakes give chase keeps you on the edge of your seat better than half the films that Hollywood churns out nowadays do. Some of the iguanas don't make it of course and it was a welcome surprise to see the usual kid-friendly BBC nature documentary not afraid to show a bit of blood and guts.

    If I had to nit-pick about something, I'd pick the music. Though at times the swelling of the trumpets formed a harmonious unity with the images, a lot of the time it had that horrible droning sound you get from a lot of movies in recent years. Needless to say I rolled my eyes when I saw a certain name on the credits for the music – Her Hans Zimmer.
  • srinjay31 July 2018
    The music,camerawork,narration and overall storytelling and message will blow your mind.
  • This video proves it.

    Animals are complicated and beautiful and this somehow makes a story about them which I didn't expect. It's really interesting and also talks about some of the dangers animals are dealing with (humans suck)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Very much a grand opening, this episode sets the tone for the rest of the series with its incredible camerawork and footage in crisp HD. The segment with the hatchling iguanas and racer snakes is, as others have mentioned, truly wonderous - an action movie chase made all the more better by being entirely real. The variety of animals we see is vast, and we learn a little bit about each one of them, about the trials and tribulations they go through in their life. Really, other than the confusing (poorly edited?) komodo dragon segment, the video side of things is awesome.

    For me the flaw in the series lies in the narration. In this epidode, it's not as bad as it is in some of the other ones, but still you get bits like "...and these (islands) provide life with an opportunity to experiment... and evolve" (...Are there places where life doesn't experiment or evolve? Isn't that life's whole thing?) or "Island life encourages to do things differently. And on some islands, this is essential" (Sorry, David, but this sounds more like you're in love with your own voice than you actually making any kind of point).
  • Planet Earth II - Islands has the difficult job to meet the high bar set by the incredible and stunning Planet Earth (2006). Not only it surpasses it's predecessor, it elevates and evolves the documentary genre of television to a whole another level. In roughly an hour, you are exposed to imagery that previously wasn't believed to be able to be caught on film whatsoever. I still do not understand how some of the shots the film crew captured were possible. With a little documentary at the end of the episode showing how insane and life threatening situations had the crew endure during the shoot, I cannot but wonder at the craft and care given to this documentary.

    David Attenborough takes us around the world's most known, but also unknown islands to witness how the most interesting and rare breeds of animals live. It seamlessly blends small stories of said animals into a coherent narrative that urges you to observe how fragile balance is today's nature facing. Along with beautiful footage, you are presented with excellent structure, as if each animal had a script to follow. The narrative is just pitch perfect, the emotions are bursting from the screen and the beautiful soundtrack only elevates the strength of the material.

    You will laugh, you will be close to tears, you will bite your nails throughout the action, you will collect your lower jaw from your carpet and by the end, you will be fully transported by the incredible adventure this documentary offers. Even if you do not care and never seen a documentary in your entire life, I suggest to give this one a go, because at times I thought I was watching a CGI scripted movie, and not a documentary that merely attempts to capture the reality. Perhaps it only means that this documentary finally succeeds on capturing that, which all the other documentaries about our planet desired to reach.

    If you live on planet Earth, make sure you watch this. 10/10
  • margineanvladdaniel7 November 2021
    The first 2 minutes(the intro) already beat the first season, well done, looking forward for the next minutes! Good to see Mr David in person..............
  • Warning: Spoilers
    First, I'm not a fan of Documentaries, so it's so good to me with 6/10. I'm so impressed with 'the iguanas were chased by snakes' scene, the crab sence and the penguins. The 'Islands' is the great start for an amazing journey. Our planet changes day by day, and 'a crab death' scene make me sad. I understand and appreciate the message the "PE" team warned each of us. We, the human beings, we are destroying our own beautiful planet. And we have to stop now before too late.
  • I have just finished the episode and I can't stop saying to myself OH MY GOD ! Hands down the most amazing film I have ever watched. This introduces unseen real animals' life whereas I did not expect to be eye-opening like this at all. I will definitely recommend all of my friends to watch since no one should ever miss this series.