out of Five
Running time: 85
Beautifully shot and featuring some genuinely astonishing footage, this is a thoroughly entertaining documentary that delivers a powerful message.
What's it all about?
Directed by Michael Gunton and Martha Holmes (from the BBC Natural History Unit), One Life has been compiled from over 100,000 hours of wildlife footage and features a variety of different creatures around the world, illustrating the premise that every species is connected by the need to eat and procreate. Narrated by Daniel Craig, the film moves around the globe showcasing different animals in their natural habitat, focusing in particular on food gathering strategies, hunting, escaping predators and mating rituals.
The wildlife footage is genuinely astonishing throughout and you're frequently left wondering just how the incredibly skilled cameramen got their various shots. Most notable in this regard is the Strawberry Poison Arrow Frog, who carries its tadpoles up a tree, one by one and deposits them in tiny, individual nesting pools (of rainwater) where they grow up away from predators; the camera follows the frog and piggy-backing tadpole on every step of their journey up the tree.
There are so many highlights that it's difficult to know where to start, but what's fascinating is the highly emotional and weirdly cinematic impact of each sequence. For example, there's a scene with a fox chasing an ibex through a mountainous landscape that's as exciting as any recent action movie, while a sequence involving Kimono Dragons killing and eating a buffalo is more upsetting and horrifying than any number of recent horror films (see also, a gang of cheetahs taking down an ostrich).
The other thing that's striking about the film is the extraordinary ingenuity shown by the different creatures, whether it's lammergeier vultures working out a way to crack open bones, brown tufted capuchin monkeys smashing open nuts against rocks (the montage of baby monkeys trying to learn this is adorable), dolphins figuring out a way to make fish leap out of the sea and into their mouths or leafcutter ants carrying inedible grass into their colony so that they can feed on the fungus that eventually grows on it.
Craig proves an inspired choice as a narrator and he does an excellent job, often injecting wry humour into the various scenes. Needless to say, there are a lot of very funny sequences too, particularly the duelling stag beetles, a possibly paranoid Silverback Gorilla, the hot springs-dwelling Snow Monkeys and the Jesus Christ lizard (so named because it walks on water).
One Life is a genuinely fascinating, thoroughly entertaining and beautifully made documentary that's well worth seeing on the big screen. Highly recommended.