Reviewed by: JimmyO
Bayley Silleck and David Clark
What's it about
A look deep into the past when dinosaurs world the world. This history is investigated with the help of paleontologists and CGI dinosaurs.
Is it good movie?
Did you know that birds are ancestors of dinosaurs? Well, now you do. And if you check out Dinosaurs Alive, a documentary narrated by Michael Douglas, you could learn much about the discovery of these big guys. A history of these prehistoric creatures is created with the help of paleontologists and a series of CG re-enactments. The two locations that are the main focus include New Mexico and the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Some fascinating discoveries are made, including two dinosaurs that were in the midst of a battle to the death… neither of which ended up doing too well. This epic in scale documentary examines many discoveries made, including the fact that dinosaurs laid eggs, you know, part of the whole connection with birds.
Okay, this is a very well made little film that was originally brought around to museums that had an IMAX theatre. It is an educational film that tries to be a little more than just a Discovery Channel feature. And I’m sure, if I were watching it in IMAX, I would probably be more impressed than I was. And I absolutely think dinosaurs are pretty interesting, but sadly, I was only mildly enlightened by this feature. While as a random viewer, I have a feeling many will feel the same. Now, if you are in class, and they put this on, I guarantee it is better than many of the educational series that is usually presented. But with all the talk of the glory of IMAX and how amazing recreated dinosaurs look in the medium, most of the power and awe is lost on DVD.
As I mentioned, this is a very well made feature that suffers from the lack of IMAX goodness. But I do respect the idea of giving children something more than just a weak and dull piece of educational entertainment. The idea of shooting this and presenting it in 3D IMAX is a terrific way to get children excited about the history of these beasts. If your child is already obsessed by the Jurassic period, this will be one of the greatest motion picture experiences they have ever had, and they might just enjoy it as much on DVD if you are lucky. While absolutely well made, Dinosaurs Alive is only of slight interest while on a small screen.
Video / Audio
Video: I will say that these 16x9 Widescreen transfers are quite good in this series. And this particular one is no exception.
Audio: Again, the Dolby Digital 5.l in English and Spanish is also terrific. At least they made sure it looked and sounded great on DVD, even if you don’t have a massive screen at home.
The Special Features include the usual Making of Dinosaurs Alive (26:40). This is a very detailed look at shooting a 3D IMAX film. This seems to be a very daunting process and you it makes you respect the story they were trying to tell a little bit more… well, not that much more.
Next up is a Dinosaur Quiz and a little history lesson on the dinosaurs that are explored here. They include the Protoceratops, Seismosaurus, Pterosaurs, Tarchia, Tarbosaurus, Oviraptor, Velociraptor, Confuciusornis, Coelophysis, Effigia, Redondasaurus and the Postosuchus. This was interesting, as I had very little knowledge of most of these guys.
Finally, we have Trailers for the rest of the films in this series, including “Wild Ocean”, “Ride Around The World”, “Mummies: Secrets Of The Pharaohs” and “Dinosaurs Alive”.
While this look at some prehistoric friends is pretty interesting and may have been magnificent in IMAX 3D, it loses much of its power on DVD. With some okay CG re-enactments, and several beautiful shots of New Mexico and Mongolia, it still doesn’t translate to the small screen. I respect the care that has gone into this series, and I’m glad that they are trying to make history a little more exciting, but it still feels low on entertainment, and high on rainy day movie watching in school.