I'm a big fan of the Walking with Dinosaurs series put together by the BBC, but when I learned that the newest series, Chased by Dinosaurs, would feature an adventurer sent back in time to study the creatures, I was skeptical. A man interacting with dinosaurs? Sounds silly. So you can imagine my delight when, after only a few minutes into the first episode, I totally forgot my worries and settled in to enjoy the show.
The zoologist/adventurer sent back in time with a film crew is Nigel Marven, the daring man behind the hit Discovery Channel show, "Marven's Wild Wild World." In this new series, Marven does what he what he always does: he studies the animals and shares his enthusiasm with the viewer. But in this one, Marven isn't playing around with cuddly chimps or slippery snakes. Instead, he's being chased by dinosaurs. Sounds kind of silly, but it's done very well.
Chased by Dinosaurs, which is broken into five 30-minute segments, takes viewers back in time to the lands of giants and sea monsters. Thanks to Marven, this series feels more fun and adventurous then its predecessors, but it still maintains the same level of education mixed with excitement. Although the predicaments our host gets into from time to time are a bit hokey, I was able to suspend my disbelief throughout the presentations and concentrate on the amazing creatures being shown to me.
The creatures themselves look great. If you're a fan of the Walking with Dinosaurs series, rest assured that the computer generated graphics are just as good, if not better, as what's come before. This also means some of the negatives are also still around. Although the dinosaurs often look lifelike, they sometimes don't interact with the environment quite right, which makes certain sequences seem "fake." Marven also doesn't blend in with the CG environment all the time, so some of his more risky feats with the predators don't seem as real as I'd like. Still, the graphics look great overall, and because I wasn't expecting the scope of a Jurassic Park, I was rarely disappointed.
Perhaps the coolest part of this series is the 3-part look at the seven deadliest seas of all time. Here, Marven and crew submerse themselves into the underwater world of ancient sea scorpions and giant armored fish. It's a new look at creatures I've never even heard of, which helped spark my interest beyond that created by the land animals.
Chased by Dinosaurs is another hit by the people behind the whole Walking with Dinosaurs series of specials. If you have any interest in dinosaurs, especially if you have children to share them with, this series is a great find.
Warner Brothers and the BBC present Chased by Dinosaurs in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen that really brings these prehistoric creatures to life. The image is very sharp with solid detail. Particularly good are the colors, which appear bright and vivid. The white sand and blue water really stand out.
On the downside, there are a few instances of the dreaded halo effect, but nothing overbearing. Plus, certain dark scenes show some graininess. However, this noise sometimes (with the emphasis on sometimes) gives the show a more realistic feel. The series is filmed in the Discovery Channel on-location style, so the graininess lends itself to that realism since there wouldn't be any bright light illuminating the scene.
Chased by Dinosaurs only offers 2.0 sound, which is too bad because several scenes could have benefited from a rear channel and bass workout. I would have liked to have been immersed in Marven's adventures, and only solid ambiance or a deeper lion's roar could put me there. As it is, the track is adequate: good, but not great. The grunts and thuds from the dinosaurs, along with the underwater squeals, are delivered with high clarity, and the music is very crisp.
THE BONUS FEATURES
The coolest bonus feature on this disc is the presentation of Extreme Dinosaurs: The Science of Giants. This 50-minute look at the recent fossil discovery in Argentina is both interesting and educational. Through the use of interviews with scientists, file footage, and CG clips of dinosaurs, the mini-documentary tries to determine if the biggest plant eating dinosaur was actually walking in the same place at the same time as the biggest meat eater.
You'll also get trailers Walking with Dinosaurs, Walking with Dinosaurs: Allosaurus, Walking with Prehistoric Beasts, Walking with Cavemen, Blue Planet, and Pyramid. The Fact Files are detailed text files about the creatures featured in the program.
Note that the disc does not have highlights from the score as some retailers' descriptions might lead you to believe.
Chased by Dinosaurs is another smash hit from the people behind the Walking with Dinosaurs series that are both educational and entertaining. Even with minimal special features and average sound and audio, I can safely recommend this to dinosaur fans.