Monday, November 23, 2009

Dinosaurs Alive! on Blu-Ray and DVD

After sixty-five million years, the ancient world isn’t looking too bad.  Ankylosaurus is still the walking epitome of a good defense.  T-Rex still struts his stuff as the godfather to our culture’s dino fascination.  Nature is lush and green and flourishing.  Just throw in Michael Douglas and we’re good to go.

            In Dinosaurs Alive! The two-time Oscar winning actor provides the narration to a 40 minute adventure through the Triassic, the Jurassic, and the Cretaceous period – an adventure spanning from the Gobi Desert in East Asia, all the way west to Ghost Ranch amidst the buttes of New Mexico.  Writing/directing duo Bayley Silleck and David Clark succeed with an enlightening discussion of these animals that is both fun and quite enthralling (and it always helps to have a voice like Douglas to relax the audience with a tinge of familiarity).

            The film provides a sizeable amount of in-depth knowledge and paleontological insight while at the same time treating the kiddo’s to an enjoyable experience chocked full of the fundamentals, delving into the biology of these creatures without stumbling into the pitfall of overshooting younger viewers.  Discussion topics include the context in which fossils have been found (and the meaning behind it), as well as the correlation of feathered reptiles with their present-day avian counterparts.  All of these subjects are wonderfully cradled by the film’s overall framework: the research efforts made by archaeologists and paleontologists of the 1930s.

Blu Ray is perfect for viewing these kinds of natural history documentaries.  Scientific points can be easily driven home via CGI renderings, so the 1080p HD visuals offered by this format is prime.  This widescreen version, with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, comes complete with equally impressive audio features.  DTS surround sound brings the ancient world to life, each beast’s roar at once imposing and distinctive.

Of course, if you don’t have access to a Blu-Ray player, that should not deter you from picking up this fine natural history piece on the DVD format.  It may not run on the same high-powered engine and the picture might not have the same crystal clear quality, but it does contain all the special features offered on the Blu-Ray version.  Both feature widescreen (16x19) version, the making of Dinosaurs Alive! shot in HD, an educational segment where you get to meet the film’s colossal stars, and a fun quiz to test your knowledge of the beasties.  Trailers are included, with audio offered in English, French, and Spanish in Dolby Digital 5.1.

            At some point in just about everyone’s life, they have read of these legendary beasts, studied them in school, or watched, mystified, as they roamed across their television screens.  These dinocumentaries are, therefore, intriguing by their very nature, appealing to our children and the children within us.  And Dinosaurs Alive! does a wonderful job in carrying on this rich tradition.

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