Judge Roman Martel also goes by the alias, "Terrible Lizard."
Our review of Dinosaurs: Giants Of Patagonia, published March 26th, 2011, is also available.
You may be asking yourself, just where is Patagonia? Well according to the all powerful Wikipedia, it is a geographic location containing the southernmost section of South America. It includes Argentina and Chile. Now that we have that established, let's visit the Argentinosaurus, shall we?
Paleontologist Rodolfo Coria and narrator Donald Sutherland lead viewers on an eye-popping journey into the past. We explore the wilds of prehistoric Patagonia and meet with the enormous herbivorous Argentinosaurus, as well as the Giganotosaurus, a T-rexian meat eater. Coria relates some background about how he found these titanic dinos, we get to see their fossilized remains in a museum, and there are tons of beautiful long pans and helicopter shots over modern Patagonia.
But we know why we're all here. We came for rampaging dinosaurs and yes Giants of Patagonia delivers. The recreations are all done with 3D modeling and placed onto background shots taken in Patagonia. The results are actually pretty good. The dinosaurs have plenty of detail and move realistically enough. A few issues of lighting and shadows give away the illusion, but all in all it's a lot of fun to see these huge beasts lumber about, attack each other and playfully chase a dragonfly.
OK, so the last part was done to show off how cool the 3D effects were, and you get a lot of that. Unfortunately, the jaw dropping power of the original is lost on your 2D home screen, but as far as eye candy goes, it works out fine. The visuals never get too bloody for little ones, but there are a few moments where the dinos jump into frame suddenly with a mighty roar, and the DTS-HD audio explodes out of the speakers. Really little kids may find this a bit too intense.
Unfortunately, this 40 minute film only scratches the surface of the two giant Patagonian creatures. It spends a lot of time showing off visual renderings of the doomsday comet speeding toward earth to smite the dinosaurs. It also has a couple of odd bookend scenes dealing with aquatic prehistoric creatures and the wonderfully named Quetzalcoatlus, a flying pterosaur with an immense wingspan. But these two moments offer little information, other than more pretty images and cool 3D effects.
The whole movie seems slapped together, with lots of interesting ideas competing for time. Sure the audience wants to see the 3D creations, but we also want to learn something about these amazing creatures. The movie never gives us enough. Coria mentions in passing that something unusual lead to the finding of Giganotosaurus, but never elaborates on it. Why follow two dinosaurs from hatching to adulthood, but never create a real story, or even closure to that idea? Why introduce the whole comet smashing into the earth angle? You can have a whole documentary about that, there was no need to shove it into this movie when you could have have included more dinosaurs actually living in Patagonia.
I was willing to accept that this was made for IMAX screens and therefore going for visuals over content. You can only do so much in 40 minutes. But that does not excuse the inane and annoying nature of The Lizard King documentary, the sole bonus on this disc. This is supposed to be a behind the scenes look at making Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia. It turned out to be 40 minutes of an uber-annoying host standing around an IMAX movie theater forcing us to suffer through one of the worst scripts I've heard since the "pungent smell of hope" in Great Migrations. Sure this documentary does provide some interesting behind the scenes information, especially moving those huge IMAX cameras all over the Argentinian badlands. But so much is stupid filler. You get a lame trivia "game" that any dino fan will find laughable. There are moments of "dino-vision" where something is sneaking around the location shooting. I'm still not sure what that is all about. And always that host and his idiotic script. At least I learned about how 3D IMAX cameras work, but that was the only good thing about this sorry waste of space.
Image presents Giants of Patagonia with a solid release. The picture looked nice and sharp in its Blu-ray format. This is a colorful film, and the landscape of Patagonia is simply gorgeous. The Hans Zimmer inspired score is balanced just right with the roars and the voice over. The Blu-ray 3D is included on the same disc, so if you intend on upgrading your television, you won't have to buy this puppy again.
For dinosaur eye candy this isn't a bad effort. It can't compare to seeing it on the immense IMAX screen, but it make for a fun evening, especially for younger dinosaur fans. But The Lizard King nearly sucked away all the good will I had for this film. Avoid that "extra" if you wish to preserve your sanity.
The Argentinosaurus says not guilty, and he's too huge to argue with.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
• 3D Version
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