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My neighborhood has an abandoned home sitting uncared for. The grass has grown out of control, window panes are cracked, and two dead trees are tilting perilously over the roof. I can't help but be amazed at how fast things deteriorate when no one was taking care of a building. Now image that the whole planet is like this – no one is home!
In this National Geographic documentary Aftermath: Population Zero, the scenario of planet Earth where all human life has vanished is explored. This is a topic similar to the Life After People series shown on the History Channel. However, this presentation is a mediocre production in comparison.
The documentary initially presents a scenario where all humans have simply disappeared. No logical explanation is given. Within moments cars are crashing and airplanes veer way off course, then they crash as well. At first much of the automated world continues on, but before long everything grinds to a halt and a quiet calm descends over the planet.
One of the more interesting scenarios explored in Aftermath: Population Zero is what may happen to nuclear reactors without humans being present to monitor them. Imagine ''Chernobyl'' occurring in dozens of places all over the world! Industrial chemicals stored under special conditions would soon escape too, causing mass poisoning and fires.
For some reason the film has a strange fixation on the fate of pets –especially dogs. I can understand why the fate of pets is explored since there are millions in the U.S. alone, but the documentary brings the issue up again and again. We see ''little Rover'' barking at the window with no one coming home, over and over again. Later, packs of wild dogs are shown roaming the streets, and this is repeated a number of times too – we get the point!
Where Population Zero really lost me is that it cannot find anything upsetting about the loss of human life. While humans have certainly created pollution and altered the natural world in negative ways, all the progress is the world is overlooked. How about the loss of music, art, language, and advanced mathematics? What about the beauty of cathedrals, paintings, hymns, and people honestly loving each other? None of that is touched on.
The DVD presents the loss of human life as a relief to the planet, where nature can now rightly reclaim everything and obliterate any evidence of human existence. Isn't that rather depressing? This production shows a planet where pigs, camels, rodents, and birds flourish, but the billions of animals that were cared for by humans have mostly died out or turned feral.
The film is narrated throughout with a rather unemotional male narrator and combines filmed sequences from around the globe and a number of CGI scenarios. I found the CGI portions to be far more interesting, as they showed how buildings would deteriorate over time, and how the natural world would quickly encroach on the largest cities in the world. Imagine Times Square in New York overgrown with trees, weeds, and swamplands.
Although Aftermath: Population Zero was somewhat interesting, the whole presentation seemed half-baked. The focus was almost exclusively on how humans have damaged the planet and how it will now repair itself since we are gone. How such an event could happen is not answered, and the film is repetitive at times, indicating poor editing of the final product. While exploring the whole scenario of planet earth without human life may be interesting, this documentary falls flat and is only worth 2 stars.
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age