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Dinosaurs Alive! (DVD Review)

4 Oct, 2009 By: John Latchem

Dinosaurs Alive

Street 10/6/09
$19.98 DVD, $24.98 Blu-ray
Not rated.
Narrated by Michael Douglas.

Originally made as an Imax 3D presentation in 2007, Dinosaurs Alive! represents something of a departure from most dinosaur documentaries.

The 39-minute movie focuses on dinosaurs many people might not have heard of, such as the Seismosaurus, Coelophysis and the Oviraptor. And in presenting the natural habitat of the creatures, the film takes a nod from Jurassic Park and offers scenes of actual places populated with CG dinosaurs (usually as an excuse to depict dinosaurs fighting).

The movie focuses on two major repositories for dinosaur fossils: the Gobi desert in Asia and the badlands of New Mexico. What do these areas have in common? The film speculates both were subject to major storm patterns millions of years ago, causing severe floods that killed dinosaurs and preserved their bodies. Still, scientists believe fewer than 2% of all dinosaur species have been uncovered.

The film also compares dinosaurs to their closest modern relatives — birds.

The scope of the project is ambitious, and as a documentary the film is a success. Since it was filmed for Imax, Dinosaurs Alive! plays best on bigger screens. The only real drawback is the relative roughness of the CGI dinosaurs. There doesn’t seem to be a sense of scale, and adding a human figure to the profile shots would have been a simple way to provide a sense of the size of these creatures.

The DVD includes profiles of the dinosaurs examined in the film, as well as a trivia quiz.

There’s also an interesting 26-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that mostly focuses on the heavy (and expensive) 3D camera used in the production.

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