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I sat in awe as I watched these six wonderful segments on the natural history of dinosaurs produced by the BBC. I was particularly impressed by the segment on marine reptiles -- a group that receives relatively little press, since they're not dinos, and since they don't interact with most peoples' favorites, like T. rex, Allosaurus, or Stegosaurus, etc.
Never had I seen recreations of dinosaurs that were as life-like and convincing (except for the occasional animatronic effect) as the ones in this video.
Watching these segments about different time periods, places, and groups of dinosaurs I was once again reminded and impressed by the long reign of these animals on the earth. I also thought that many aspects of their biology and ecology were interestingly presented. No one was, of course, around to see what these animals actually did, so the way dinos are presented in the video are unavoidably informed guesses about how we think that these now extinct animals lived. I applaud the author and producer for their fine efforts!
Viewers should be aware, however, that there is a large and convincing alternative body of information (backed by a significant number of paleontologists) that suggests that carnivorous dinosaurs like Allosaurus, T. rex, and even Utahraptor did not run down their prey, bring them down, and kill them like a giant lion would -- i.e., overpowering and killing their prey immediately. The alternative proposal about how the meateaters did their business is akin to the way that monitor lizards, like the Komodo Dragon, bring down their prey. Dragons inflict a slashing bite, even a relatively small one on their prey. When they do that bacteria that live on their teeth are introduced into the prey's body. After a while the prey animal succumbs to the bacterial infection and the dragon can eat at will. Granted, this method of attack and subjugation is less dramatic than the hunt and kill method portrayed a couple of times in this video series, but it's an equally if not even more convincing story about how large meat eaters may well have done their business.
Those kinds of academic debates aside, this is a wonderful, brilliant series. The imagery is excellent, the soundtrack is supportive and enhancing, and the narration is outstanding! I will watch this series again and again.
5 stars all the way!
Alan Holyoak, Ph.D., Dept of Biology, Manchester College, IN
The sounds and imagry are simply wondrous. Whereas Spielberg's Jurassic Park used only a minimal of well-lit outdoor scenes and kept primarily to controlled indoor locations or night shots (which helps the special FX considerably), Walking with Dinosaurs is almost entirely bright outdoor shots and creates scene after scene of wonder at dinosaurs moving and living out their lives and the anamorphic widescreen puts them right in your living room. Only the close-up animatronic shots look artificial on occasion.
This version is somewhat different from the US Discovery Channel version. Both are 3 hours in length, but without commercials this version has included all the little "sub plots" that were omitted for time constraints and is uncensored (though only a couple of shots were cut for content). Though listed as 230 minutes, 50 of those are the "making of" documentary included on the second disc - which is equally worthwhile. Also, this version splits the 6 segments with opening and ending credits whereas the Discover Channel used commercial breaks to mark the intermissions. Also clearly marked is the Kenneth Branagh narration. I would've liked to have a choice of narrations on a second audio track (particularly for the imperial units of measurements which Avery Brooks used in the Discover Channel version - my older relatives were a bit confused by the metric system used in this version). And while this is no "Abyss" in terms of DVD extras, there's certainly more here than most.
If you have even the slightest interest in dinosaurs, Walking with Dinosaurs should be part of your DVD collection.
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