Review: Why on Earth

Directed by Katie Cleary and written by Kristin Rizzo, travel the globe to experience the vital connection between humans, animals, and our planet through stunning, rarely before seen footage which exposes the effects that deforestation and the illegal trade of threatened and endangered species have on elephants, lions, sharks, orangutans and more. By caring for these beautiful animals, we begin a healing process that will eventually help us all. Featuring: Clint Eastwood, John Salley, Maggie Q, Kristin Bauer, Shannon Elizabeth and Dan Richardson.

Footage of animals roaming the wild, with glorious natural colours and vast landscapes, is always going to be a great thing to watch and Why on Earth takes advantage of that. It focuses on the beauty and rarity of its animals to highlight the severe need to protect them. They’re well shot moments but when it then steps into more of the political and discussion arena, it feels less polished. It does work but the disparity between the two styles and feeling separate rather than interlaced, it isn’t as effective as it could be. It also feels fairly stiff as time goes on, with the passion each of its subjects have for animals and conservation, it’s a shame that energy doesn’t translate to the directorial style, instead being by the book.

There’s a similar problem with the tone that it takes, it feels overly structured and can’t hold a natural flow or energy to it. It has an interesting mix of different interviewees, from those working on the ground to try and save animals from the threats they face in a physical sense, to those working to change to the laws to protect them in years to come. However, those two different subjects don’t blend together, there isn’t the time to explore both of them and it feels as though it would have done itself better justice to focus solely on one. It is great to have the conversation about what’s being done, what needs to be done and how everyday choices can help, but it’s a lot to cover in just seventy-five minutes.

Another problem which hinders a more consistent and compelling energy is there isn’t a true lead to the project, someone or something to pull everything together. Director Katie Cleary does appear throughout but her presence is overly composed and it comes across perfunctory, rather than displaying her passion for the project. However, it is great to see some familiar faces along the way, people using their celebrity for good causes. Although the content ultimately feels slightly thrown together, with quick bites more than fully involved with the conversation, again it needed more time to develop into a larger discussion.

Why on Earth has a fantastic motive, with some great natural footage but it can’t quite find its footing to really drive its message home. There’s a really nice mix of interviewees, involved in conservation and protection of animals in a variety of ways but it’s trying to fit too much into a short runtime. Starting out discussing the more immediate ways animals need to be protected then moving on to the political element and preventing animal testing, is a bumpy transition. It’s good to see the different aspects of the conversation and how everyday people as well as specialists can make an impact but it lacks the depth or firm grasp to bring it all together in a flowing and enthralling manner.

Verdict: ✯✯✯ | 6/10

Available on VOD from August 16

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