Dinosaur [2000]

What do you get when you cross the Crocodile Hunter with the Jurassic Park trilogy? You get Chased by Dinosaurs, an awesomely entertaining BBC follow-up to the phenomenally successful Walking with Dinosaurs programs. Hosted by zoologist-adventurer Nigel Marven, this compilation of playfully exciting 30-minute programs is a time traveler's dream come true, presenting a feast of impressive prehistoric scenery as if it were readily accessible to any present-day camera crew. It's digital fakery at its finest, and Marven's infectious enthusiasm combines up-to-date research with wide-eyed intensity as he introduces us to a wide-ranging menagerie of long-extinct species, thriving in their native habitats and raging from 75 to 450 million years B.C. "Land of Giants" leaps back to the early Cretaceous period (100 million B.C.) to what is now Argentina, where Marven and his intrepid crew find Argentinosaurus, at over 100 feet long the largest dinosaur ever. Other marvels abound, including an Ultralight flight among a flock of Pteranodons, with wingspans up to 40 feet! "The Giant Claw" is a search for Therizinosaurus, an amazing herbivore (Mongolia, 75 million B.C.) with enormous 28-inch claws on 10-foot arms. The three-part "Sea Monsters" spans seven epochs to survey some of the most bizarre and terrifying creatures that ever swam the oceans, including sea scorpions, a multi-tentacled Giant Orthocone, and Megalodon, the ancient relative to Great White Sharks. And that's just a sampling: Many other amazing creatures are included among Marven's close encounters. With each successive effort, the digital wizards at Framestore CFC (Europe's largest computer-animation company) rise to new heights of photorealism, interactive lighting effects, and biological authenticity. And while Marven's a fair educator and a robust adventurer, more science-minded viewers will appreciate the 50-minute bonus program "The Science of Giants," centering on the behavior of massive dinosaurs and the efforts of renowneds paleontologist Philip Currie to prove that "megacarnivores"--once thought to roam alone--actually hunted in packs. This is really amazing stuff, and the helpful "Fact Files" provide detailed profiles of every dinosaur and sea creature featured in these memorable programs. --Jeff Shannon

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