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Walking With Prehistoric Beasts

Walking With Prehistoric Beasts on DVD

If you enjoyed Walking With Dinosaurs, then you'll definitely love the latest, Walking With Prehistoric Beasts.

Beasts starts where Dinosaurs left off, taking us on an entertaining (and educational) tour of the world of prehistoric beasts (hence the name). There are all the creatures you've heard about (the mammoth, saber-toothed tiger, etc.) and a whole bunch I'm pretty sure you haven't heard of.

The three-hour program is split into six half-hour segments, each focusing on a different time and different animals. The segments are titled New Dawn, Whale Killer, Land of Giants, Next of Kin, Sabre Tooth, and Mammoth Journey. What I found most interesting about this program is the fact that it's done exactly like a nature program of today. It's narrated in such a way that you feel as though the animals are alive, and the crew was actually there to see them.

As in "Dinosaurs," Kenneth Branagh does the narration, and he seems like an excellent choice. He's perfectly calm without being boring, and has the kind of voice you'd associate with nature show narration.

Of course, we need to talk about how it's possible for us to be seeing these creatures that have been extinct for thousands (and in some cases, millions) of years. Using computer technology, the BBC has managed to create living, breathing animals from just their skeletons. By no means do they look as good as those in the Jurassic Park movies, but for a made-for-TV documentary, this is pretty damn impressive.

I'm quickly becoming a huge fan of the BBC's documentaries, and I'd love to see more of them on DVD. Not only are they well produced, but the DVD presentations are exceptional as well.

Walking with Prehistoric Beasts is presented in what appears to be 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture is superb, with the beautiful locations looking sharp and clear. It's not in the same league as big DVDs like Planet of the Apes, but for what it is, you can't ask for better picture quality.

The audio is presented in stereo, which is somewhat unfortunate. I realize it originally aired on TV, but a 5.1 track would have really made you feel like you were there. Roars coming from all around you and animals running all around you; that kind of thing would have enhanced the experience. As it stands, it's a good stereo track for what it is.

I always love the extras that the BBC puts on their documentaries. This particular one includes two 50-minute behind-the-scenes featurettes, which are really documentaries in themselves. Titled "Triumph of the Beasts" and "The Beasts Within," these docs not only talk about how WWPB was made, but goes way more in-depth. You learn how scientists can tell all about an animal just by its teeth, and a whole bunch of other crap that you would otherwise have never thought about.

On top of the two fabulous behind-the-scenes docs, there are over 20 minutes worth of interviews with the creators, some fact files about the animals featured, and a photo gallery.

This is a top-notch documentary with a top-notch DVD presentation to go along with it.

Walking With Prehistoric Beasts, from BBC Video/Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
180 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) 16X9 enhanced, 2.0 stereo
Narrated by Kenneth Branagh
Produced by Jasper James


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Updated May 13, 2006