I’m going to be perfectly honest with you all, but I think I bit off more than I could chew with this documentary. It’s not that I didn’t understand what was happening - it was that my attention (probably like yours) can only be held for so long by a topic that I have very little understanding of. I’m not a moron, but it’s certainly no "leave your brain at the door" kind of flick!
Beginning on the New Siberian Islands, we follow a group of ivory hunters. However they aren’t hunting ivory from any living beast - they are hunting mammoth ivory, a substance that is practically white gold where the perils of finding such a discovery vastly outweigh the risk. That is when these ivory hunters discover an almost intact mammoth, sparking interest in the world's genetic community, potentially giving the ability to clone and thus resurrect the wooly mammoth.
If this sounds almost like two films, it's because really it is. On one hand, we have the lives of the ivory hunters explained in a slow, deliberate and shockingly beautiful way, much like their lives on the Islands. On the other hand, we have the lives and mission of the geneticists as they explain not only how cloning could be possible but that they want to get all 'Jurassic Park' on everyone and bring the mammoth back from extinction... which I guess is cool.
The problem is that, while there is a small crossover where the scientists and the hunters meet, the majority of the rest of the film feels like we are watching two different things that have been quickly cut together. Even the parallels that are drawn between the opulence and comfort of the scientists' lives compared to that of the ivory hunters feels heavy-handed.
On one hand, we have the lives of the ivory hunters explained in a slow, deliberate and shockingly beautiful way, much like their lives on the Islands. On the other hand, we have the lives and mission of the geneticists as they explain not only how cloning could be possible.
My main issue ended up being time. Because this was two films cut together and the (mostly) very dry subject matter, the duration of this documentary felt like more than its 112 minutes, and that’s a real shame. The last half an hour had me thinking about anything other than what was happening on screen, instead of what should be the culmination of humanity and science with the questions of genetic engineering and the ethics behind us mere mortals playing god - a truly interesting question, sadly it all just falls very flat.