If the title of the National Geographic docuseries Welcome to earth sounds like a slogan intended to invite aliens to earth, you’re not far from it. An interstellar tourist, who plans to bother and spend some free time on the planet, can be easily won over by this six parts, which showcase the hidden wonders and unspoiled beauty of the planet.
Towards this goal, this series more than succeeds. It is a stunning showcase of the various remote corners of the planet and has a lot of little tidbits and information distributed almost every few minutes of its execution.
The show explores a unique place with each episode. The visuals really evoke awe and wonder. It is often said that most technological innovations in cinema have become possible thanks to the human desire to observe nature up close. And even today, the best filmmaking technology in the world belongs to the filmmakers of nature.
It’s obvious from watching docuseries that you need highly specialized cameras for the very specific purposes and conditions nature throws at you. Welcome to Earth is a never-ending feast of visuals, and proves that there are many places on earth that exude an alien feeling, so different they are from the rest of the world.
But the defeat of Welcome to Earth is that a big Hollywood star like Will Smith is at its helm as narrator and audience substitute. This ensures that the main focus is on him and the natural world is relegated to second place.
Smith does what he always does in the movies: ooze charm and act. A lot of his emotions seem genuine, to be fair. For example, in the first episode where he descends into the depths of the ocean, his discomfort seems natural. Most of it, however, is clearly scripted.
This in itself is not such a bad thing. Every nature documentary is scripted to a point. Plus, having someone inexperienced brave their fears to venture into places as dangerous as, say, the deep sea, is actually relatable, and the actor, to his credit, does a good job at it. giving the air and the air sincere. He’s also funny sometimes.
But all of this is still no alternative to a real expert who knows what he’s talking about when he describes the things you watch. This is why the BBC documentaries narrated by Sir David Attenborough have been so successful. He is a professional naturalist and he knows what he is talking about.