Dinosaurs Alive



Giant Screen Films

NEW YORK -- Serving as a virtual recruitment film for the American Museum of Natural History where it is being shown several times a day, "Dinosaurs Alive" serves up generous helpings of its titular, perennially popular large-screen film subject. Documenting the efforts of paleontologists past and present to find evidence of the creatures that have fascinated generations of schoolchildren, the film should reap the expected boxoffice harvest when it rolls out to Imax screens nationally throughout the summer.

Narrated by Michael Douglas, the film -- which is available in both 2-D (seen here) and 3-D versions -- uses generous helpings of computer animation to bring its creatures to vivid life. Using evidence culled from recent fossils, the film provides effective visualizations of numerous species engaging in various behaviors, including most notably a battle to the death between a velociraptor and a protoceratops. (Incidentally, recent evidence has suggested that the former, rather than the leathery creatures seen in "Jurassic Park," actually were covered in feathers.)

The film features numerous sequences depicting intrepid paleontologists at work, including vintage archival footage of Roy Chapman Andrews (posited here as the real-life inspiration for Indiana Jones), who led numerous American Museum of Natural History expeditions in the Gobi Desert in the 1920s, and footage of current AMNH excursions in such dinosaur-rich places as New Mexico.

There's an inevitable academic and scientific air to the proceedings that may turn off younger viewers hoping exclusively for "Jurassic Park"-style action. But anyone seriously interested in the subject will find much to fascinate them here.