Film (with rating): Earth (G)
Studio: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Summary: This documentary featuring three separate stories of a mother polar bear, African elephants and a humpback whale weaves together a portrayal of life on our planet Earth.
Review: If you liked the television show “Planet Earth,” you will not want to miss “Earth.” The jaw-dropping visuals are indescribably beautiful. Just like in the small-screen version, the nature photography is haunting, supreme and beyond memorable. You may recognize some of the more unforgettable shots from the TV show here in the big-screen “Earth,” but it won’t feel like a repeat. These snapshots of life on our planet are worth seeing time and time again. Filmmakers Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield used some of the most innovative tools around to bring these stunning visuals to the screen. It’s hard not to become personally invested in some of the “characters,” especially the polar bears. Disney employs the soothingly bass-voiced James Earl Jones to narrate the movie, and he does a commendable job. It would have been nicer to have a more enriching script for him to read (think “March of the Penguins”), but even with the more pedestrian tidbits, JEJ still made it sound good. I could have actually done with a bit less talk, though, and let the stunning visuals speak for themselves. This held especially true when the narration got more cutesy than informative. Despite being a nature show, it is a Disney movie. That means the more difficult aspects of the animal kingdom are not showcased in high definition. All in all, the family-friendly “Earth” is a gorgeous, unforgettable portrayal of our planet and its creatures.
Extra highlight: “Earth Diaries”
What to serve for dinner: Honor our planet with food designed to be kind to both Earth and its animals: cheesy baked eggplant (allrecipes.com). To take it to a higher level, buy the produce from a local farmers market and use organic pasta sauce and cheeses–especially cheeses. Remember, happy cows…
* 1 eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
* 2 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed
* 1 tablespoon garlic powder, or to taste
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 small onion, chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, chopped
* 2 small tomatoes, chopped
* 1 (10 ounce) package fresh spinach leaves
* 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
* 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
* 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
* 3/4 cup tomato pasta sauce
* 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush eggplant slices with olive oil on both sides, and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle garlic powder over the top. Bake for 10 minutes. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, tomatoes and spinach. Cook and stir for a few minutes until fragrant and the tomatoes have released their juices. In a medium bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Set aside. Place the eggplant slices in a greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Top with the spinach mixture. Spoon the cheese mixture over the spinach, and spread into a thin layer. Pour the spaghetti sauce over the cheese layer. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese over the top. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until heated through and the eggplant is easily pierced with a fork. Serve with warm bread and a side salad.
What to talk about over dinner: What was the most touching scene in the film? Has “Earth” changed your view of Earth and animals? What will you do differently now? What about global warming? True, or overblown? What can you do to help slow it down? How can you live more green? What did you learn from this movie? What nature shows did you love to watch as a kid? Have zoos gotten better in the past decade? How can they improve? How can you get involved to make a difference in the lives of animals? Will polar bears be around for our grandchildren to see? Did you ever go whale watching? How can you help your kids be better global citizens?