Walking With Beasts
The Complete Series

Starring: Kenneth Branagh
BBC Worldwide Publishing


Certificate: PG
Available now


Last years Walking with Dinosaurs series was a huge success. The technology that had astounded millions when it was seen on Jurassic Park had caught the publics interest. But whereas Jurassic Park's total animation screen time accounted for about 10 minutes of the finished film, Walking with Dinosaurs used the technology for the majority of the programme.

A year on and the BBC's launch of Walking with Beasts was eagerly anticipated. But how could they expect to top last years success? According to the producers the technology has moved on in the last year considerably and this, coupled with more detailed animatronics for the close-ups, has led to a more realistic feel to the show.

If you've already seen this broadcast on TV you will know that this is not strictly the case. The technology is still a good five years away from producing anywhere like realistic effects. Maybe the reason it worked so well with Walking with Dinosaurs was because the computers are pretty good at recreating reptilian skin tones. In Walking with Beasts there are quite a few creatures which look rather disappointing - in particular the human ancestors from episode four.

Not only that, but sometimes the close up animatronic puppets don't match up too well with the animation (again see episode four) and on more than a few occasions when the beasts are roaming their environments they don't seem to fit in - camera movements and animation are not synchronized as well as they should be! And the whole animation has a nasty Disney feel to it in places! Ah! Look at the cute Sabre cats babies - they seriously look like they have walked out of The Lion King.

Add to this Branagh's script which in places is too strange to be believed (whoever wrote the line 'This is a world where birds eat horses' should have been reprimanded).

Another problem I had with this is that every episode has a sex scene and one even shows the penis of one of the beasts. While I agree that it is important to show these scenes, like all documentarys, after the fourth episode I was getting a little bored of them. They don't add anything to the show and will simply have tons of kids laughing till their sides split.

The DVD extras include: Triumph Of The Beasts - 50 minute special on the rise of the mammal; The Beasts Within - 50 minute special on scientist's search for man's link to apes; Beast fact files; Photo gallery; Production crew interviews; Storyboard comparisons.

While this is still great entertainment, fans of Walking with Dinosaurs could be forgiven for expecting more.

Darren Rea

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