Our Great National Parks Review: A Breathtaking Virtual Safari Courtesy of Barack Obama

Our Great National Parks is a limited documentary series based on some of the biggest and most important national parks in the world. Narrated by former President of the US and a popular figure on the internet, Barack Obama, this documentary consists of five parts, four of which are dedicated to individual countries. With each episode almost an hour-long, Our Great National Parks goes in-depth exploring each country’s wildlife and marine reserve.

– Our Great National Parks review does not contain spoilers –

Each episode begins with Obama relating that particular country to his own life and the time he spent there, usually as a child. The focus of Our Great National Parks, according to Obama, is to introduce the audience to the efforts governments around the world are making to preserve the rapidly declining environment. He begins with the hope that he is able to leave the earth not only habitable but also a thriving place for his children and grandchildren.

The first episode is an introduction to various wildlife reserves around the world, from Hawaii (where Obama grew up) to Japan and Chile and more. This episode is also the most interesting one, as it grabs our attention with its variety of national parks and animals inhabiting them. We visit the Yellowstone National Park, which is the pioneer in establishing wildlife sanctuaries across the world. We see the sloths from Costa Rica, who take a month to digest a single leaf (not my words, but Obama’s). We also learn that one-fourth of all modern medicine originated in rainforests, which explains a lot about their exploitation.

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As Our Great National Parks progresses to the second episode, we see the forests and ocean reserves of Patagonia in Chile. It consists of 24 national parks and the longest mountain range in the world, the Andes. In the third episode, Obama focuses on Tsavo National Park, which is one of the oldest and biggest national parks in Kenya. Kenya is also Obama’s native country, and he talks about visiting as a grown-up to see his family and becoming awestruck with the landscape and wildlife.

In this episode, we see a great deal of the African veldt with its hot and dry vegetation and some of the most dangerous animals like the African puma. The fourth and fifth episodes feature Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Santa Cruz, USA, and the Gunung Leuser National Park in Indonesia.

Our Great National Parks Review: A Breathtaking Virtual Safari Courtesy of Barack Obama

Our Great National Parks tries very hard to be as interesting as possible. And we can’t blame them, with an audience that binge watches everything on OTT platforms, we simply do not have the attention span or interest in watching a five-part nature documentary. Watching an hour, or a two-hour documentary is a different matter, but a series requires an acute interest and dedication, even though narrated by everyone’s favourite Barack Obama.

To his credit, he has infused the narration with a bemusing tone and tried to humanise the behaviour of his subjects. Focusing on the adorable babies of lemurs, orangutans, pumas and seals and others, there has been a good effort to keep the interest of an audience that watches cute cat videos all day.

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Our Great National Parks also seems a segue into Obama’s new venture as an executive producer. Obama as a narrator is a pretty entertaining thing for a lot of people who watched him as the president and his CSPAN skit as well as his SNL cameo. This documentary will only add another feather to his cap of popularity, that is if people actually watch it.

Our Great National Parks Review: A Breathtaking Virtual Safari Courtesy of Barack Obama

Our Great National Parks: A manifesto on climate change?

Our Great National Parks sets out with a message to the audience: only if we take steps to protect our wild and marine life now, will future generations be able to survive. And in order to survive, we need to make these wildlife reserves our priority, especially when the world is facing unprecedented speed of climate change. Obama adds that he has seen rapid change during his own lifetime, hence his desire to do something for the environment and its inhabitants.

He ends Our Great National Parks with the appeal of “we’ve got to do more”, and urges the audience to “Vote like the planet depends on it”. He strongly urges us to push our governments for more of these wildlife reserves and parks.

There is a huge irony in Barack Obama narrating Our Great National Parks. He was the president of the USA, a country solely responsible for 20.3% of the total greenhouse gas emissions, ranking 4th in total deforestation as of 2020, with a total energy consumption of 40% of the world’s aggregate. Someone of this background narrating a documentary on wildlife sanctuaries seems like a dark joke played on all of us.

Another issue with Obama in Our Great National Parks is that he urges the audience to take steps, meanwhile, it is the big corporations and local governments that are responsible for climate change, including the American government. Putting the onus of change on the public is also a favourite past time those in power.

Our Great National Parks Review: A Breathtaking Virtual Safari Courtesy of Barack Obama

Apart from the beautiful shots of a variety of vegetation and life forms, the somewhat amusing narration from Obama and the coverage of different countries, Our Great National Parks does little to keep the interest of the viewer. Once you get over the wonder of Obama talking about mating rituals and baby lemurs, there is little else for the documentary to offer. It would be a stretch to expect an audience to hang out till the 5th episode.

Our Great National Parks is streaming on Netflix.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Overall

SUMMARY

Our Great National Parks is a docuseries on some of the biggest and most important national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the world, narrated by Barack Obama.

3 COMMENTS

  1. This article is harmful to the efforts being made by this documentary. The visual footage alone of these beautiful natural sanctuaries, nay, paradises are reminders of the beauty left in this world in all the horror and selfishness we’re surrounded by. It offers hope. Regardless of the irony of his past misdeeds, his efforts to now spread his message of the importance of conservation is admirable. Why not embrace the now and the issues being presented and recognize that his influence may make a difference for some and help to slowly encourage more and more people to help save our national parks and increase conservation in an effort to save our planet.

  2. The reviewer’s comment that “we simply do not have the attention span or interest in watching a five-part nature documentary” is ludicrous. A person can watch one hour of the series and then watch another one at a later date. Each episode except the first one is a standalone so no binge watching or long attention span is required. The photography is extraordinary (how many times have you seen hippos swimming in the Atlantic Ocean?) and the narration by Obama infuses the right amount of humor, knowledge and enthusiasm.

  3. It would be a stretch to expect an audience to hang out until the fifth episode???? What a moronic statement. First of all, watching an episode at a time is perfectly acceptable. But I found myself watching 2 episodes for a couple of nights. The photography is breathtaking, the format is educational without being boring and President Obama’s narration is perfect. Readers, do yourself a favor and ignore this columnist’s complaints. This is a documentary that will leave you entertained, informed and in awe at the wonders of nature of how nature and all life is intertwined and co-dependent.

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Our Great National Parks is a docuseries on some of the biggest and most important national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the world, narrated by Barack Obama.Our Great National Parks Review: A Breathtaking Virtual Safari Courtesy of Barack Obama