Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Review: "Sea Rex 3D: Journey to a Prehistoric World"
Toothsome beasties and gruesome monsters of the past come alive in the new IMAX film, "Sea Rex 3D: Journey to a Prehistoric World." It's a computer-animated wonder, as marine reptiles of the Jurassic period -- and even older -- do battle under the ocean's surface in impressive, computer-generated scenes sure to delight the young and old ... though mostly the young.
Note I called them "marine reptiles" and not "dinosaurs." Georges Cuvier (Richard Rider), the father of modern paleontology, is our guide on this time-traveling journey, as well as our instructor. His first lesson: Only land-bound reptiles are called dinosaurs.
The tone of the film is definitely pitched to school-age kids, and the fight scenes between reptile and reptile, or reptile and fish, stop just short of bloody flesh-rending. Although a final showdown between a prehistoric shark and a Mesosaur -- a marine reptile with massive jaws and teeth that resembles an alligator crossed with an extra-terrestrial -- has messy results.
Cuvier, who studied an early Mesosaur skeleton in the late 1700s, becomes our guide, materializing like a ghost for Julie (Chloe Hollings), a teen visiting a natural history museum. He gives her an ancient reptile tooth and proceeds to direct her -- and us -- through the lesser-known history of marine reptiles.
It's fascinating stuff, whether you're a science buff or not, and rookie directors Ronan Chapalain and Pascal Vuong, who co-wrote the script with Richard Dowlearn, smartly concentrate on the shape and sizes of the various creatures, and what they ate -- which was often each other.
Let's face it, youngsters first get interested in dinosaurs for their gigantic proportions and eating habits, so there's no reason it would be different with their undersea brethren. Even the film's title -- a play off T-Rex -- reinforces that angle.
Things start off a little slow with a historical overview of Earth's first 3.5 billion years or so, before any non-microscopic life forms developed. But the action soon ramps up, and the movie's 41 minutes fly by fast.
Part biology lesson, and part slick CGI adventure, "Sea Rex 3D" makes education cool.
3 stars out of four