We’ve seen big stars put on nature shows that are before, usually in the one-off episodes. Someone like Mr Bear Grylls does most of the dangerous work. But in Welcome to Earth, Will Smith, one of the planet’s biggest stars. Which tries to add to what he thinks is a lack of knowledge about the planet.
Will Smith stares straight into the camera in black and white.
“I have to admit,” he said. “I’ve never swam in a lake, I’ve never climbed a mountain. I’ve been to caves and never slept in a tent. But I’m starting to think that maybe I missed something.”
In Welcome To Earth, hosted and co-produced by Smith with Darren Aronofsky and Jane Ruth. The actor/rapper who explores the places on Earth that few people know and few even get to see. In this episode, Smith explains how nature works in ways. That people begin to understand and introduces others who study this phenomenon differently.
In the first episode, Smith descends on Mount Yasur. A highly active volcano on the island of Tanna in the South Pacific. It is one of the most and highly active volcanoes on Earth. And he was there with mountaineer Eric Weichenmeier. Who happened to be blind. The idea is to see a volcano erupt and to hear it, to feel a sound. That people cannot hear with their ears. In other words, “The Quiet Roar,” as the episode’s title suggests.
Between Smith and Weichenmeier’s scenes. Smith introduces us to other ways to explore sound, from festivals in Mexico where men encounter fine dust. That creates explosions to the Norway where the skaters listen to the ice to see and find how thin it is. In the Dolomites, a nat-geo photographer goes to a tranquil place. 400 meters underground, so that an instrument can record what no one can hear. In the mid-Atlantic, Dr Diva Amon, without oxygen, hears the click of a whale.
In the second episode, Smith accompanies Dr Amon in the capsule in the submarine to get to the bottom of the sea;
More than 3,300 feet below the surface. He saw the light disappear and found a water creature that only showed colour. Because people like them introduced white light. Another segment shows how can find light on EarthEarth in ways humans wouldn’t expect, from bioluminescence to animals with colours they can see but humans can’t see.
After watching several episodes of Welcome to Earth, we wonder if Smith has found a new calling in his long and varied career. You can rap and write hits, and she can act and speak honestly about her marriage. But he can also moderate a nature show, unlike other people’s work, and give the genre a mundane quality that we don’t often see because of the primary individual styles we see often.
Maybe it’s because Smith is doing these unnecessary things for the first time, and he’s not an expert at all, so we accept the astonishment he expresses when experiencing this activity. Somehow, Mr Will Smith does becomes all of us in this scenario. The jokes he makes to cover up his horror and astonishment are just a more elaborate version of the nervous jokes we would probably make if we were in this situation.
But Aronofsky and Ruth, helped by Brendan McGinty’s excellent cinematography:
We’ve also crafted each episode to emulate the sound and pace of Will Smith’s action blockbuster. The incredible setting and resulting suspense add to Smith’s presence, whether it’s a scene he plays or just one he narrates. All of this puts the audience on stage with Smith and the filmmakers. And that deep feeling is hard to come by in a nature show.
Welcome to Earth finds one of the biggest stars on List A, humbled up by what he actually sees, hears, and feels, and the fact that Will Smith enjoys the experience makes the show a compelling spectacle.