Reviews: Animal Face Off

Documentary-heroes fighting each other.

Useless to say, humans have always been fascinated by the largest and most powerful wild animals. They outcompete us in size, strength and/or speed; they may be dangerous to us; and are classicaly perceived as at the top of our (more or less conscious) Scale Of Nature, being superpredators or invincible preys. No surprise that they are the most common protagonists in wildlife documentaries.

However, we can usually see them battling against weaker animals (normally their prey if they are meat-eaters), or fighting with other members of their own species. But we rarely watch them fighting each other since these combats happen very rarely in Real Life; however, many people wonders which of them would win such battles since their childhood. The old solution was obligating the animals to fight to death in Real Life (either for mere fun or involving wagers), but today this thing is regarded as unacceptable by most western people (myself included). What to do? Animal Face Off from Discovery Channel has been a possible solution, creating CGI combats where animals of similar power and living in the same habitat and location fight to death at the end of each episode.

Many wildlife fans have criticized this program for its alleged subjectiveness (many losers are usually seen winning against their paired opponent in documentaries and Real Life). Another criticism is that many virtual fights seem too "theatrical" and often with some oddities throughout. However, Animal Face Off still remains a good popular-science work in my personal opinion, since the fights are preceded by simulations with robots and precise measurements of the strength involved. Moreover, many non-specialists when judging recreated animal behaviour often tend to fall in the Wild Mass Guessing field, and complaining about one's favourite animal losing against a less-popular creature is a common thing (this is expecially frequent with big cats, since they have traditionally the largest fandom among big wild animals and they lose almost always here).

Despite its scientific style, Animal Face Off is not boring at all in my opinion, and there are several amusing moments (expecially thanks to the Trash Talk led by the animal experts). On the whole, this is one of the most original programs about wild animals so far, remaining good despite some failings in scientificity.