Planet Earth II: Jungles Review

Episode three delves deep into the bizarre life that makes its home in Earth’s most competitive habitat.

After the spare, open expanses of last week’s mountains, the Planet Earth II crew bring us in close this week, zooming in on the alien beauty of the jungle. We move smoothly between the tangled snare of thousands of interwoven plants, from one densely packed locale to the next, and we’re reminded of the real power of a show like this; taking us to the ends of the earth to show us things we’ve never seen before.

Amazon Jungle Amazon Jungle

There’s an abundance of weird and wonderful wildlife on display. Where previous episodes connected their segments with landscape shots, the wealth of oddities on show in the jungle allow the team to bridge each section with a rotating cast of the most bizarre insects, reptiles and birds imaginable. The colours are captivating, the shapes of some of the creatures unsettling and transfixing. Like the dark, claustrophobic jungle, we’re never far from the action, pulled in close for the duration of the show.

Toucan Toucan

In the first segment, and we follow a young spider monkey and her shaky attempts to master the art of climbing. Though her tail and limbs are perfectly adapted to life in the canopy, she is inexperienced and quickly gets herself into real danger. We watch, hearts in our mouths, not daring to look away, until she’s rescued by her father, using his long, flexible body and prehensile tail as a bridge. The sequence yet again demonstrates what sets this team apart: their ability to tell a thrilling story with their footage.

Draco lizard Draco lizard

Within seconds we are transported to Malaysia, and zoom in on a small lizard that appears, at first, to be fairly pedestrian. But there’s more to this Draco lizard than meets the eye. The first surprise comes when a rival for food appears – the lizards reveal a long, bony crest under their jaw, which they point forward and wave like a flag, attempting to warn off their opponent. When this fails, a far more remarkable secret comes to light. The outmatched lizard leaps from a branch and reveals its previously hidden wingsuit, soaring hundreds of feet through the trees to safety.

By way of Swordbill hummingbirds, which use their disproportionately long beaks to reach for food, we transition to the real star of this show.

Jaguar Jaguar

Jaguars are massive, powerful cats, stalking the banks of the Pantanal as it winds through Brazil’s jungles. The contrast in approaches taken by the male and female jaguars is fascinating. Where the females slink through the undergrowth in an attempt to surprise their prey, the heavier males simply use their huge size to overpower other predators. With a remarkable leap, we see one catch and kill a caiman, a 10-foot-long relative of the crocodile, with unerring ease.

Glass Frog Glass Frog

The jungle is full of strange and awe-inspiring sights which, without shows like this, we would never get to see. The crew has been able to capture a desperate battle in which a father Glass frog defends its vulnerable young from predatory wasps in Costa Rica. The frog lashes out with long, powerful legs, kicking the wasps away from its precious clutch. This small-scale warfare may go unnoticed day-to-day, but it’s ubiquitous in the jungle, and we get front row seats to the action. It would be all-too-easy to focus solely on the predators, but Planet Earth II never neglects these smaller species.

Indri Indri

The episode ends on a bittersweet note. In Madagascar, we get breathtaking footage of an Indri, the world’s largest lemur, staggeringly close to the camera. Its huge, hypnotic golden eyes fix upon us, accompanied by a sobering reminder that these sanctuaries for wildlife are in more peril than ever before. Because while spectacular in the extreme, Planet Earth II is about more than just wonder. It’s about using that wonder to inspire us to change the world for the better.

Discover Attenborough's Planet Earth with Exodus:

Land of the Jaguar | Highlights of Madagascar | Discover Costa RicaBorneo Wildlife Discoverer

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