What would the world be like if every human on Earth
disappeared or died suddenly? Would our
cities and monuments still stand? For
how long? What would happen to our steel
and cement skyscrapers and what would New York City look like if no one
lived in it for a
hundred years? Those are some of the
questions posed by the History Channel documentary Life
after People. It is an
interesting thought experiment, though by definition a futile one, that
worthy of a movie. Unfortunately this
it. With too little science and way too
much purple prose and hyperbole in the narration the show fails to
Starting with the assumption that every human on Earth was
gone, the show looks at the planet as time passes.
It doesn't go into how or why this happened,
it just starts from the presumption that it did. (Which
is fine. Just how such an event would
occur would be
another program entirely.) After a day
most of the power plants in the world would stop generating
electricity, and domestic
animals would start to turn into feral beasts.
A year later the deterioration would really start to take place
years later many landmarks would be unrecognizable.
The show goes of to look at 100 years, 500
years, and even 10,000 years into the future to see what long term
humans would have had on the planet.
The story is told though time lapse photography and CGI
images of famous landmark tumbling to the ground in spectacular fashion. These images are interspersed with scientists
and experts giving their opinions as to what the Earth would really be
One of the best aspects of the show is that they look back
in the past to see how abandoned cities of the past have fared. They examined the temples of Angkor Cambodia
illustrate how quickly the forest can recapture land.
Even more interesting was a small Russian
city that was evacuated after the Chernobyl
accident over 20 years ago. Sitting in
the stands you couldn't tell where the soccer field was and seeing how
damage the building had sustained from the elements and entropy was eye
Unfortunately the show is marred by its style. Each
time frame and aspect that they examine
is over in a few brief minutes, just in time for a commercial break.
looked at in any depth, and there are no opposing sides or other
offered. The show has a good deal of eye
candy, but not a lot of substance.
The CGI that is used frequently in the film varies in
quality greatly. Some of it looked
pretty good, but other parts were pretty poor.
The illustration of a book disintegrating over time looked like
done on a PC in someone's bedroom, for example.
The animation of the Brooklyn Bridge
good, and it's very cool, but they showed it something like four times! (You can almost here to producer saying "We
paid for it, you're going to use it damn it!")
The worst aspect of the program however is the script for
the narrator and the soundtrack.
Everything the narrator said was an OH! MY! GOD! moment.
Every point was given dramatically and with
much hyperbole.: "In Las Vegas, [dramatic pause] the last
glimmers of man-made
light relinquish the night to its primeval blackness."
I actually laughed at that line. Give me a break.
The music is even worse with every point needing to me
reinforced with dramatic or ominous music, just in case the viewer was
dense to understand the meaning of the overstated narration.
All of these elements came together to make the show feel
like it was aimed at the lowest common denominator.
Rather than educate or make it's point, it
was more concerned with grabbing people who are channel surfing.
I actually wasn't too impressed with the 1.78:1 1080p/VC-1
image. The colors were very nice and the
level of detail was fine, but there were problems when the camera
cityscapes. The image was jerky and not
smooth. It looked like the problems you
get with a PAL to NTSC conversion and I was surprised to see it. There was also some minor banding in a few
scenes but nothing major.
The quality of the stereo soundtrack was fine, even if I
didn't enjoy the content. There was some
use made of the soundstage and the narration and comments were all
clear. I just wish they had toned down
the intrusive dialog a bit.
There are 8 "additional scenes" which really played promo
spots for the show. They were brief and
some of them showed some early stages of the CGI animation. Overall they were nice but nothing special.
This should have been a better program, and I'm really
surprised that it spawned a TV series.
Filled with over-the-top music and horrid narration the movie
it's more interested in being trendy than deep.
I even agreed with the documentaries main theme, that everything
humans do will one day disappear. It's
just too bad that the point couldn't have been made with a little more
intelligence and less hyperbole.
Make this one a rental.
images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not
represent the image quality on the disc.