BMZ Review: T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous (3D)
By Ross Anthony
T-Rex is a documentary that attempts to be a drama. Shot from the perspective of a paleontologist's 15 year old daughter, this 3-D presentation executes a three objective lesson plan: 1) Introduce two notable contributors to the field: Barnum Brown and Charles Knight, 2) Establish the concept of "theory" in the field of paleontology, 3) Show off some dazzling 3-D Dinosaur models.
All of these objectives are realized, unfortunately they don't add up to a very entertaining Large Format experience.
Here are some areas for improvement.
1. Opening narration is stuffy (overly textbooky) especially for a piece targeting youngsters (ex:" ... studying its abundant fossil record.") Additionally, the text sounds read and not related (by the young girl).
2. The dramatic rock-climb fall sequence plays awkwardly as if artificially inserted, contrived to simulate drama.
3. Though the film attempts to represent elements related to the study of paleontology in a factual manner ... an artifact suspected to be a dinosaur egg is left on the edge of a cluttered desk - simply so it can be conveniently knocked over later. This implausibility wasn't even necessary; a much more interesting scenario would have had the curious girl purposely open the artifact "box" in which the egg surely should have been placed.
4. Though the girl's performance approaches average ... as the central character, it needed to be stellar.
5. But the single largest problem was all the talking. People go to see Large Format pictures because the screen is over six stories tall. We're not interested in watching two people converse - especially not over the phone. Additionally, while these story line elements may work as a 45 minute piece to be played on VHS in the classroom - they won't satisfy customers paying $8.50 to see huge dinosaurs growl in 3-D (which ultimately comprises no more than 5 minutes of this production). Besides, this is film - Show!!! Don't tell.
As for what the film does well. The T-Rex computer graphic isn't bad, but I loved the two floating smaller saurouses from the Charles Knight painting. Not just scientific, but beautiful & artistic and perfect to shoot in 3-D. Additionally, the last shot of the baby-Rex hatching from the egg is crisp, gooey and alive! Lastly, the 3-D is very tight - no double image problems. (Though, people did seem rather small in relationship to the background.) Also, we get to see digging sites from the air and ground. That's worth 1000 conversations.
Plot in short, paleontologist's daughter high on dinosaur egg fumes, meanders through a museum flashing back to the Cretaceous period.
Copyright (C) 2000.
Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com
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