Walking With Dinosaurs
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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted April 29, 2000
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The Movie:

It would have made for a great IMAX movie, but anyways, "Walking With Dinosaurs" is a fantastic 180 minute series that is both educational and extremely entertaining. Learning can be fun...who knew? The documentary brings the entire story of the dinosaurs back to life using a combination of CGI, animatronic and other effects and the result is amazing.

In other words, imagine going back to the real story of the dinosaurs that were on display in Jurassic Park. Rather than feel cold and withdrawn, such as some nature documentaries do, "Walking With Dinosaurs" leads the camera right into the action, making us feel as if we're right in the middle of all of the confrontations.

The documentary is split into 6 episodes ("New Blood", "Time Of The Titans", "Cruel Sea", "Giant Of The Skies", "Spirits Of The Forest", "Death Of A Dynasty"), and each introduces us into a new environment and a new cast of characters. It's unbelievable how well these effects have been able to be integrated into the surrounding area. Dinosaurs convincingly interact with each other, and walk through the world around them, and the effect is flawless. This is fantastic, magical work that everyone should see.


The DVD

VIDEO: Fox's anamorphic transfer for "Walking With Dinosaurs" has a couple of minor flaws here and there, but the picture quality is otherwise so breathtaking that any flaws pretty much get thrown out the window. There is a sharpness and detail (not to mention depth) to this picture that is magnificent, almost three-dimensional looking. Colors are almost impossibly beautiful, and never show any problems. The scenery is phenomenal, and this image shows off every little detail.

The only problem I really saw was some shimmering here and there, but as I said before, the quality otherwise is so impressive that I really didn't mind. A really, really fine effort from Fox.

SOUND: This is a nice, although somewhat basic soundtrack. There are some slight, minor surround effects, but otherwise, the audio gets every detail of the dinosaur chirps or roars, as well as all of the minor sounds of the environment, such as insects. The music and narration also sound first-rate.

MENUS:: An animated clip introduces us to the main menu, which is nicely animated, as well and offering choices of which episode the viewer wants to choose first. When an episode is chosen, the viewer is taken to a new menu that offers an animated chapter selection menu for that episode.

Case:: I just wanted to make a special mention of how nicely the case was put together. There is a fold-out case inside a box. The fold out case as well as the box are both wonderful, with pictures on each. Once you fold out the inner case, you are presented with both discs and a sleeve that contains a rebate offer and a little booklet.

EXTRAS:

Picture-In-Picture: A wonderfully creative extra included with the series is this mode, which includes a little window that opens on occasion(there's not too many of them, but when they do appear, they're very informative) that includes a narrator who tells us in greater detail about the making of that particular sequence. I liked the feature a lot, but it made me want a commentary track even more for the entire series. It would have been amazing to hear the effects team, for example, talk about how they were able to bring the dinosaurs to life, and have them interact so easily with the environment.

The Making Of Walking With Dinosaurs: An excellent 55 minute "making-of" documentary that, pleasingly, is also presented in anamorphic widescreen. The documentary is impressive in depth, taking a look at everything from the history and environment of these dinosaurs to the bones being found today to the special effects that brought the creatures to life. Historians and experts take us through each of the dinosaurs, pointing out all of the features of each creature and what they used them for.

We are told of the problems that the crew had to face - finding the right location that looked like the habitat of real dinos, and exactly where the perfect places were spotted. There were also a number of challenges for the effects crew, such as building a process to animate the way that some of the ancient creatures moved, and some of the complex computer animation techniques that were involved.

I thought it was a great documentary, and the fact that Fox has included this as a second DVD is a wonderful addition to an already great set.

TV Spots: 2 TV Spots

Final Thoughts: Even at Fox's $34.99 price tag, this 2 DVD set is definitely worth every penny. I was amazed by the effects and found the series to be a hugely impressive effort. "Walking With Dinosaurs" is a must-see.



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