We’ve always had a fascination with dinosaurs.
It seems like every generation of kids seems to have been amazed by these gargantuan beasts that stomped the Earth millions of years ago. From Jurassic Park to Walk with Dinosaurs, many attempts have been made to capture their majesty and power, some better than others. With Prehistoric Planet though, Apple TV+ has created something truly special for those interested in trying to experience the world of these massive creatures in a different way.
Emphasizing five different environments, Prehistoric Planet is designed to immerse the viewer in the ancient world of the Cretaceous era. By focusing on coasts, deserts, freshwater, ice worlds and forests, the five-episode event series invites families to witness the world of dinosaurs with as much authenticity as possible. From the parenting techniques of Tyrannosaurus Rex to the brutality of winter conditions and the majesty of the ocean depths, Prehistoric Planet seeks to bring the ancient world to life, one creature at a time.
Anchored by narration from David Attenborough, Prehistoric almost feels like the third entry into his iconic Planet Earth series. With each episode, the series attempts to bring these beasts to life by observing them in their natural habitat. As such, the film feels as close to a natural documentary as possible. Featuring stunning animation and exceptional cinematography, Prehistoric simply feels like a window into the lives of creatures we are never going to get the chance to see in real life. (That is, of course, unless my government funding for a Jurassic Park gets approved. I’m not holding my breath.)
Produced by Jon Favreau and Mike Gunton, Prehistoric Planet has gone to painstaking links to ensure that the most accurate scientific information was used in developing the creatures themselves. As we gain more information about their appearances through scientific research, questions regarding feathers and body movements continue to develop our understanding of their behaviour. In essence, these are longer simply big lizards but complex creatures who share the DNA of birds and other beasts. With this in mind, from feathers to fur, the level of detail within their animated bodies is particularly impressive. (Just look at the complex skin of the baby T-Rex’s in the first episode and you’ll immediately see what I mean.)
What’s more, however, the detail is far from limited to the dinosaurs themselves. For a series comprised entirely of digital creations, the cinematography is particularly impressive as well. Using techniques that one would find in their Planet Earth series, Prehistoric manages to bring these creatures to life with subtly. Slightly blurred angles and perspectives are relatively unnoticeable but, with their inclusion, Prehistoric genuinely feels as though we are getting authentic footage. In other words, these episodes do not look like they were simply created on a laptop but rather shot in the field using actual cameras.
Of course, holding the series together is Attenborough himself. With his gentle demeanor and calming narration, he has always excelled in helping to bring storytelling into his subjects. This is not a series designed to terrify the viewer but rather to enrapture them with a delight of the natural world. (The fact that the series is divided up by location as opposed to species is further evidence of this.) Whether it’s the drama of an infant trying to escape their predators or trying to endure the harshest of conditions, Attenborough manages to keep the viewer invested in what’s taking place. We feel the thrill of animals hunting and the sadness of the loss of others who fall victim to their hunger. We witness the birth of creatures and mourn in their deaths. Because of Attenborough’s skill as a narrator, Prehistoric maintains the beauty within creation that gives the viewer a sense of awe.
With a passion for scientific inquiry and a loving eye, Prehistoric Planet is certainly the most realistic experience that we have gotten onscreen of dinosaurs in their way of life. Making full use of their skills as storytellers, Favreau, Gunton and Attenborough have created something visually stunning that never loses its heart.
The first episode of Prehistoric Planet is available on Apple TV+ on Monday, May 23rd, 2022 with new episodes airing daily throughout the week.