Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dinosaurs Alive 3D

I took a half-day of vacation today, to escape the chemical fumes in my workplace. (They're applying some kind of top-coat to the floor in the basement, but the smell got pretty strong on every floor.) I went to the zoo for a walk. I wish I'd taken my camera, because there was a monkey in the sloth's tree, hanging upside down like a sloth. Also, they have new reedy sea dragons in the aquarium, and they're exquisitely beautiful. Plus the black-footed cat and Mai the three-legged tiger both have babies.

After my walk, I decided to see the Dinosaurs Alive 3D film at the zoo's IMAX theater. Alas, that turned out to be a big disappointment. The computer animated dinosaurs were rather disappointing. I've seen better animation in low-budget kids' movies. Plus they went to all the trouble of making it 3D, but they ruined any potential sense of realism that may have provided by skimping on the interaction between the dinosaurs and their environments. Dinosaurs would walk across desert sand and leave no footprints. The perfect wind-ripples upon the sand were completely undisturbed by the ferocious to-the-death battle happening upon them. Sometimes the animation overlaid on the filmed background was not lined up quite right, so the dinosaurs seemed to be sliding or drifting a little with each step. I'm not even sure they consistently remembered to have the dinosaurs actually cast shadows.

Then the 3D effects themselves were bad. This wasn't the old-style red lens/blue lens style of 3D, but you still needed glasses. The technology wasn't explained and I'm too lazy to look it up, but I assume it has to do with polarization of the light or something along those lines. Anyway, for objects in the middle depth, it worked fine. For distant things, there was no sense of depth at all. For close-up things, the effect broke down. Items had ghost images around them where the two components of the film didn't come back together. So the ghosty double-vision close-ups actually ended up giving me a headache. At times I ended up closing one eye so I could just watch it 2D.

Then the content of the film itself was somewhat lacking. It was only 45 minutes long, and I'd have to guess that the actual animated dinosaur sequences totaled somewhere in the 5-10 minute range, including the several repeated scenes. Most of it was spent on the paleontology grad students, and it came off as really, really staged. I'm sure all documentaries are staged to some degree, but this just seemed extra bad. It seems more like a poorly scripted paleontology recruitment film than anything.

Plus I don't trust their facts. Near the end, they said something to the effect of "only two percent" of all dinosaur species have been discovered. How do they know that? You can't give a percentage known for a predominantly unknown body of knowledge. There is no whole to calculate it against. Maybe we've only found one percent. Maybe we've actually found 20, 30, 50, or 90 percent. The thing is, it is impossible to know. It's one thing to say, "we think that we may have discovered as little as two percent of what's out there to be found," but quite another to assert as a fact, "we've only found two percent." The first is speculation. The second is a lie.

All in all, I'd say skip Dinosaurs Alive 3D. Not worth the time or money, or the headache.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

So, why am I thinking of those 50's era drop and cover films when I read your description of "Dinosaurs Alive 3D"? sorry it turned out to be such a waste of time.