Discovery Channel // 2005 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Steve Power (Retired) // October 22nd, 2009
Travel 6.5 light-years to see what science predicts is really out there.
What if there really was life on another planet? This is the question posed to us by the Discovery Channel documentary, Alien Planet. Being heavily based in the narrow confines of reality and the rather dramatic artwork of Wayne Barlowe, the theoretical answers fall something short of being exciting. A diverse panel of experts from the scientific world -- oh, and George Lucas too -- chime in, their thoughts and theories supplanted by some computer imagery and stock synthy new-age beats.
It's not that Alien Planet is a poorly made documentary. Au Contraire! Being a Discovery Channel joint, it's actually one of the more thorough explorations of an alien world and living extraterrestrial species. Unfortunately, being a Discovery channel documentary and not a Roland Emmerich film, it also means this particular journey into the unknown is rather short on human drama, exploding cities, whiz bang alien technology, and a captivating motivational speech by President Bill Pullman. Still, what Alien Planet does have, is a lot of very dry, very humorless science speak, and some CG-rendered landscapes and creatures who have clearly come from the Playstation 2 era. It's all very exciting stuff...if you're the kind of person who had a chemistry set in Elementary school, or a subscription to Popular Science Magazine. I had neither. I just grew up watching Star Wars, The Thing, and Alien, and fell asleep no less than four times while trying to get through this thing. Take that however you will.
The disc has no special features whatsoever -- unless you count Discovery's awesome little advert with that catchy, catchy tune (boom dee-yadda boom de-yadda!) -- but the presentation is solid, with a more than passable anamorphic widescreen transfer that really allows the creaky old CG to shine. The stereo sound is what it is, on par with your standard TV broadcast.
Can you sense my general sense of boredom here? As far as being a scientific journey to another world, Alien Planet definitely succeeds. As for being entertaining? Well you have to ask yourself how many hours of Discovery programming you typically enjoy, and I don't mean episodes of Destroyed in Seconds.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Discovery Channel
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated