History Channel // 2008 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // December 20th, 2009
Welcome to Earth, population: zero.
Imagine for a minute what our planet would be like if every human being suddenly disappeared. No, this isn't a Kirk Cameron film or an episode of The X-Files, but a look at what would happen if every last one of us disappeared and natural processes reclaimed the planet. In a nutshell, that's what you'll find in Life After People.
The filmmakers waste no time explaining exactly why all six-some-odd billion of us have gone "poof," but that's how the stage is set. The drama unfolds as time elapses and builds, gradually at first, but then by increasing increments beyond the disappearance of humanity. It's hard to believe that as soon as 24 hours after we're gone, fossil fuels will begin to run out, causing generators and power grids all over the world to fail, plunging a large percentage of the Earth's populated areas into darkness.
Within the first ten days, additional power supplies will fail, causing food on supermarket shelves and in household fridges to rot, creating a dire situation for domestic animals that will either die or be forced to forage and fight for whatever food they can find to live on. Suffice it to say that things go increasingly downhill from here, as nature retakes the Earth and ultimately everything we know today is all but obliterated by time, weather and other natural processes. It's ironic to note that scientists believe the remnants of Earth's ancient civilizations may fare the best in the long run, as modern man's legacy vanishes.
While powerfully and dispassionately narrated by actor James Lurie, the feature does lean towards the sensational at times, but is overall an engaging piece of speculative fiction. Sparing seemingly little budget-wise, viewers will learn that animatics were created in consultation with architects and engineers to ensure that the dramatic CG-rendered collapses of iconic structures like the Eiffel Tower and the Brooklyn Bridge are presented as accurately as possible. In typical History Channel fashion, for a documentary of this kind, a parade of scientists, architects, engineers and other experts lend their hypotheses and insight to the mix, creating an intriguing fiction that seems to be not too far from reality. Granted, we're not planning on going anywhere soon, but if we did, it seems Earth would get along just fine.
Sadly, Life After People is a pretty big disappointment on Blu-ray, especially given the considerable time and effort that must have gone into the production. Visually little better than a standard-def presentation, the image is relatively soft overall with little noticeable fine detail or definition. Rounding things out on the audio front, viewers get a bland audio presentation that does little to pull itself much above the acceptable level. If I had to guess, History Channel did little more than port the original DVD presentation directly onto Blu-ray with no extra effort made at all to take advantage of the hi-def format. The handful of additional scenes included on the disc do very little to raise the bar on this release as they add nothing of any significant value to the feature.
We may have made a bit of a mess of things here on Earth, but if there's one lesson to learn from Life After People it's that good old Mother Nature is more than capable of cleaning up after us. History Channel is guilty of releasing a sub-standard Blu-ray edition of an otherwise engaging production.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
* Full Frame (1080i)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Footage
* Life After People: The Series