A fascinating and well-produced series originally aired on Animal Planet, "The Future Is Wild" is certainly an original idea: it takes a look at the creatures that could populate our planet millions of years from now - after mankind is no longer. Split into three parts (Ice World, New World, Hothouse World) and then down into episodes within the parts, the series brings together interviews with scientists and spectacular footage that integrates superbly animated creatures with actual location footage.
The opening part of the series provides a look at the ice age that happens millions of years from now, and the resulting creatures that lived through it and adapted to the new environment. We also get a look at how the contents have changed, and some of the wonderfully odd creatures that may evolve from other species, such as "Flish", "Babookaris" (which appear to be the digital cousins of the monkeys from "Jumanji") and the giant "Shagrats". What I enjoyed about this series that I noticed right away, was that the show doesn't simply just show the audience dazzling animation of imaginative creatures, it also manages to suggest ways that these creatures would interact with the other creatures around them, as well as how they might cooperate with one another, such as a little insect troop that caught a bird as a result of circling around one another until they appeared to be a flower. (Note: those interested in learning more about how animals in some of our present day environments interact with each other should check out Animal Planet series host Jeff Corwin's recent book, "Living On The Edge").
The second section looks at the potential environment that could happen 100 million years from now, as the Earth turns warmer and more humid. Many creatures have adapted to what has become a swamp land, while many others are arriving thanks to the fertile conditions. Creatures such as the "Ocean Phantom" (a new form of jellyfish that school together into a colony and appear to be one large floating structure) are profiled.
Finally, 200 million years into the future, we find that the world has turned into a desert, largely due to a "global extinction event" years before, where volcanic activity threw a suffocating amount of dust and debris into the air. Terrabytes, decendants of Termites, are one of the survivors. The little creatures have developed an entire system, including water carriers and farmers for the colony.
Overall, I thought this was a marvelous series, which offered imaginative and educational takes on both what the future could hold and how some of today's current creatures relate to what could evolve millions and hundreds of millions of years from now.
VIDEO: "Future Is Wild" is presented by Image Entertainment in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a terrific presentation that really brings out both the superior computer work and location photography that combine to form this series. Sharpness and detail are first-rate, as the picture maintained a very pleasing level of clarity and detail.
Still, a few minor issues did appear. Some light edge enhancement was noticed in a couple of scenes, while a tiny bit of dirt was seen on the print used in one or two instances. Other than that, the picture appeared bright, smooth and clean, with no compression artifacts noted. Colors looked terrific, appearing well-saturated, vibrant and not showing any issues or concerns.
SOUND: The series offers a 2.0 soundtrack. While a 5.1 presentation would have been superior, when played back in Pro Logic II, this 2.0 soundtrack is moderately enveloping, with a satisfying amount of ambience and sound effects pulled to the rear speakers. Audio quality is fine, as dialogue/narration and ambience/sound effects remained crisp and clear.
EXTRAS: No supplements are included.
Final Thoughts: This is not only an informative and imaginative series, but it's edited and presented in a way that's fascinating and quite entertaining. Image's DVD edition may not provide any supplements, but the $29.99 price tag for the 328-minute, 3-DVD series is definitely more than reasonable. Science teachers should consider showing this fun, involving program to their classes. Highly recommended.