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Dinosaurs Alive! 3D(2007)
Uncover the mysteries buried beneath our feet! Join the world's preeminent paleontologists in this eye-popping IMAX adventure as they uncover some of history's most astonishing dinosaur finds. Travel across the exotic dunes of the Gobi Desert and along the sandstone buttes of New Mexico as scientists make brand-new discoveries about dinosaur behavior, their environments and find what could be the oldest dinosaur ever unearthed in North America. With stunningly realistic and scientifically accurate CGI, you'll see these amazing creatures come alive...in a big way! Narrated by Michael Douglas.
For more about Dinosaurs Alive! 3D and the Dinosaurs Alive! 3D Blu-ray release, see Dinosaurs Alive! 3D Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 31, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Narrator: Michael Douglas
» See full cast & crew
Dinosaurs Alive! 3D Blu-ray Review
Life finds a way, and that way is 3D.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 31, 2010
It is hard to imagine our own human sense of who we are and where we come from without the records buried beneath our feet.
Dinosaurs are man's connection to an ancient past, a past long since swept away by the power of time and the forces of nature but, miraculously, preserved in fossilized remains that offer more than just a curious glimpse into lives and species that once were. Sixty-five million year-old creatures still live today as hulking ghosts carefully preserved and assembled in museums and, through the wonder of modern technology, in digital recreations on cinema and television screens. Whether feature-length Science Fiction pictures like Jurassic Park or captivating educational Documentaries like Dinosaurs Alive!, man's unending fascination with both the past and with the creatures who roamed and dominated the Earth in a time that's psychologically unfathomable are now only a theater ticket or a flick of the remote away. The IMAX documentary Dinosaurs Alive!, narrated by Michael Douglas, offers the best of both worlds, showcasing the excitement of the search for fossils and educating viewers as to the stories these remains can tell, while also creating some nicely-realized digital animations of dinosaurs as they likely were, at least as far as modern science currently theorizes. Dinosaurs Alive! reminds its audience time and again that newly-unearthed fossil records and ever-advancing technologies often make older, established theories obsolete with the stroke of a brush in the field or the newest computer model back in the lab; one can only wonder how long this 3D title will remain relevant, from both historical and technological perspectives.
Millions of years ago, two dinosaurs -- a Velociraptor and a Protoceratops -- fought in a battle to the death, but it ended badly for both before a clear-cut winner could be declared. Through some unknown phenomena, both creatures met their fates while locked in a deadly battle of strength for survival. That battle -- and countless other dinosaurs from an era that ceased millions of years ago -- has been forever frozen in time as fossilized remains, granting modern-day scientists the opportunity to piece together the ins and outs of life on this planet long before the advent of archaeology, paleontology, museums, and computers. Dinosaurs Alive! takes viewers on a worldwide trek from the arid landscapes of New Mexico's Badlands to Mongolia's Gobi Desert in search of remains, paying homage to the work of world-renowned experts like Roy Chapman Andrews while following a new breed of explorers as they unearth new fossils and reshape the ever-evolving field of paleontology. As new fossils are unearthed and radical new developments in the field of dinosar studies are chronicled, Dinosaurs Alive! transports viewers millions years into the past through a digital recreation of the era, showing dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes as they hunt for food, nurture their young, and struggle to survive in an ever-evolving world they know nothing about.
Dinosaurs Alive! is a fun if not slightly uneven and questionably-paced Documentary that's at one moment fascinating journey and in the next a dry run through repetitive visuals or slightly dull characters. There's little in the way of palpable enthusiasm from either the scientists or Douglas himself; the film suffers as a result of the juxtaposition that is exciting visuals and an equal blend of entertainment and educational value versus relatively unenthusiastic characters and a monotone delivery from Douglas. Fortunately, the good stuff wins out, and for the sheer fascination of the search for fossils, the history of the dinosaurs, and the animation that brings the past alive, Dinosaurs Alive! is worth a watch. In that vein, the visuals dominate even the educational value the film offers, even if Dinosaurs Alive! delivers its facts and figures with a pretty even hand. It never seems to go out of its way to act like it's the first and last word on all things dinosaurs, nor does it baby the audience and assume zero knowledge on the subject. Hence, it's easy to see Dinosaurs Alive! as a film that will equally satisfy both hardcore dinosaur enthusiasts and relative newcomers alike, which is one of the greatest compliments that can be paid to a film such as this. The balance between enlightening newcomers and satisfying more knowledgeable fans is a great asset, particularly for dinosaur novices who know most of their stuff from a few library books and an afternoon with Jurassic Park. Dinosaurs Alive! will work best as eye candy that stirs the soul and engenders a fascination for its subject while offering, but not in overwhelming numbers, technical terms and a flood of historical facts and figures that may very well go in one ear and out the other, particularly for those who are more drawn to the story and visuals rather than the educational value the film offers.
Still, this David Clark/Bayley Silleck-directed feature does manage to impart some interesting facts that are bound to stick long after the film is over. Whether the fact that some dinosaurs ate rocks or that Velociraptors were actually covered in feathers (read: Jurassic Park isn't the end-all, be-all definitively fact-based dinosaur movie), audiences will walk away with a few nuggets worth remembering and a visual experience that rivals most anything else in the field. Dinosaurs Alive!'s animation is good but not great; the special effects improve on some of the lower-rent made for television and direct to video dinosaur movies, but they don't look almost two decades better than Jurassic Park, either. Nevertheless, they make for excellent visual reinforcements that tell a more complete story than can static fossilized remains; seeing several of the species in action -- particularly with this much detail -- makes the movie all the better. For a relatively small IMAX movie (talk about a contradiction in terms!), though, the effects sequences -- both in how they look and the quality with which they're choreographed -- are commendable; the only real lamentable fact is that they're not used quite as extensively as they might have been, particularly considering how well they work in 3D.
Dinosaurs Alive! 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
Dinosaurs Alive! features a good, but not great, Blu-ray 3D presentation. It sparkles here and falls a bit short of expectations there, but the good far outweighs the bad. Detail is solid-to-excellent throughout; never is the movie quite as perfectly detailed as Wild Ocean's surface shots, but viewers can expect to see plenty of definition in various sands and earth covering fossils or, in the CGI sequences, the immaculate texturing of the rough dinosaur hides. Colors are steady throughout, whether the many earth tones that dominate much of the film or the brighter hues as seen on automobiles and clothing. Black levels are sturdy and never overpowering of important details, while flesh tones appear accurately reproduced in those scenes featuring human scientists and students. There's no evidence of banding or blocking, but there are a few jagged edges seen on slim horizontal surfaces within the museum as well as a few pops and scratches littered infrequently over the film. These general attributes neither impress nor disappoint; when it comes to its everyday visuals, Dinosaurs Alive! is merely a good, not great, high definition presentation.
Likewise, the 3D elements are quite good but the overall experience isn't as perfect as most would hope. As to the good news, Dinosaurs Alive! offers the expectedly awe-inspiring sense of depth in every 3D scene; there are quite a few shots that stand out as some of the best yet seen on a Blu-ray 3D release, particularly those shots that put even greater emphasis on the spacing between objects by definitively identifying a foreground object and using it to further enhance the spaciousness of a location. One example is a glass barricade seen inside a museum early in the film. It's located right in front of the camera at the bottom right-hand corner of the frame, and it perfectly offsets everything else within view, whether the dinosaur bones that extend back what seems like dozens of feet and the handful of museum patrons perusing the exhibit. Another such moment comes around the 10:28 mark as an in-close rock formation -- again appearing on the bottom right-hand portion of the screen -- perfectly offsets the formations that are further out at some distance from the viewer. The depth is good to begin with, but when there are one or more objects in-frame which can be used as markers of sorts to more accurately judge spacing within these 3D worlds, the better the effect seems. Dinosaurs Alive! is packed with quality 3D effects, notably in the form of elongated dinosaurs -- both fossilized and animated -- that seem to extend out of and well into the screen when they are viewed almost head-on or turned at a slight angle. Like Wild Ocean, Dinosaurs Alive! features some old video footage offset against a relatively static backdrop; here, not only does the video box appear to hover over the screen, but it almost looks perpendicular to the still and flat image behind it. Text -- including the opening credits -- and several objects atop a solid black backdrop appear to float above the screen, too. The single best shot, though, comes as the camera pans over several diggers at the 29:50 mark; watch for incoming dirt a few seconds later!
Unfortunately, not every 3D effect works so well. Several scenes feature either excessively elongated or obviously squished and "fat" visuals that appear of a more normal shape and size in the 2D presentation. Around the 14-minute mark is a shot of a car and two people that look unnaturally stretched out across the vertical axis, making them all appear far wider than natural. A similar phenomena occurs around the 25-minute mark where a red jeep looks far too skinny. The 3D effect in both cases is fine and does its job -- the hood of the red jeep, for instance, seems to jut straight out of the television -- but the unnatural shapes are enough to take the viewer out of the moment, lose focus of the film, and wonder why objects look squished or stretched. Fortunately, most of the film is absent such anomalies, with the majority of shapes looking just as they should. Additionally, viewers can expect to see a steady dosage of "ghosting" or "double images" throughout; replayed on the Panasonic TC-P50VT20, several shots suffer through what are arguably the worst instances of "ghosting" yet seen on a 3D Blu-ray. The 26:37 and 30:30 marks are the worst offenders, with the latter featuring two men lying on the ground while working on uncovering a fossil and looking like they have a reflection the size of their entire bodies off to one side. When Dinosaurs Alive!'s transfer is on, it's amazing, but there are just enough issues -- whether related to the 3D process or the way the movie was shot -- to yank the viewer out of the experience at several points. Please note that all screenshots posted in the review were captured from the 2D transfer located on the 3D disc.
Dinosaurs Alive! 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Dinosaurs Alive!'s DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is the real strength of this presentation. It's big and powerful, just as should any modern production focusing on dinosaurs be. Music is delivered with power to spare and most excellent spacing, falling out of the sides and bringing a room-filling sensation along for the ride. Bass is found in a supportive role with regularity, and the dinosaur growls and snarls, too, are propped up and given an extra jolt of terror by a righteous low end. The surround channels offer up support for music and sound effects; the gusty winds of the Gobi desert in one scene seem to swirl around the listening area to great effect, heavy rain heard in chapter eleven saturates the soundstage, and a helicopter in one scene zips from back to front as its rotors tear through the listening area. Dinosaur screeches and footsteps seem to fill the room with floorboard-rattling ease. Michael Douglas' dry narration is handled expertly by the center channel, delivering each syllable with pinpoint accuracy. Image Entertainment's lossless soundtrack is every bit the supportive element this film needs.
Dinosaurs Alive! 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Dinosaurs Alive! contains two extras of note. Making Of (1080p, 26:41) takes a fascinating journey into the making of the film, including a glimpse at the challenges of shooting in 3D in remote locations, the cost of shooting in 35mm 3D ($11 per second!), the grandeur of the shooting locales, the extensive process of setting up each shot, filming aerial and time-lapse footage, mounting cameras on various vehicles, shooting background plates and inserting CGI dinosaurs, and much more. Anyone interested in the filmmaking process will want to buy this disc for this extra alone. Meet the Creatures offers text and video snapshots (which only jump to a moment in the film in which each dinosaur appears) of several dinosaurs: Protoceratops, Seismosaurus, Pterosaurs, Tarchia, Tarbosaurus, Oviraptor, Velociraptor, Confuciusornis, Coelphysis, Effigia, Redondasaurus, and Postosuchus. Also included is BD-Live functionality and 1080p trailers for Wild Ocean, Wild Ocean 3D, Mummies: Secret of the Pharaohs, Mummies: Secret of the Pharaohs 3D, Ride Around the World, and Dinosaurs Alive!.
Dinosaurs Alive! 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Dinosaurs Alive! may be at least partially obsolete at some point in the future; with advancements in technology and new fossils being discovered everyday, the past seems to be evolving a quickly as the future. Who knows what new and interesting science fictions will be science fact by the time some new Dinosaur documentary is unleashed on theatergoers or home theater fans in a future where the creatures materialize from thin air as perfectly-replicated holograms with real dimensions that make this 3D presentation look as antiquated as some of the crackly old vintage footage of Roy Chapman Andrews it contains. Here's hoping we're all around to see it. Until then, Dinosaurs Alive! is a pretty darn good release; it's not quite as well-made as Wild Ocean or as visually stunning as Grand Canyon Adventure 3D, but the film is good and the Blu-ray presentation solid enough. Recommended.
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