Friday, January 17, 2014

Documentary Review: Clash of the Dinosaurs

Paleontologists usually don’t get furious, at least not at their job. Yeah, there are arguments and disagreements and the natural reaction to creationists and other forms of pseudoscience and anti-science, but personal offense isn’t usually part of the day. This makes such incidents very notable and significant. You see, the media is both the ally and nemesis of scientists; most of the time they help each other out, but when the deals go bad, things can be very messy. Today I’m going to talk about Matt Wedel and Clash of the Dinosaurs.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Musing on King Kong

You know, my original plan was to review the 1933 King Kong. Then I reconsidered for one reason: too easy. It’s a great film. The characters are two-dimensional but never unlikable. The special effects are amazing. The direction, cinematography, and score make for a great film. The central idea is inspired. This movie changed the filmmaking medium forever, and I consider it the best-made film ever. Citizen Kane was just plain boring-it needed a giant gorilla fighting dinosaurs.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Old vs New: Dinosaur vs Walking With Dinosaurs

A long time ago, artists, paleontologists, and filmmakers came up with a visionary idea: a movie based entirely on dinosaurs. Other movies have had dinosaurs in them, but were centered on humans and their interactions with the dinosaurs.  This project, as proposed, would be a natural drama, similar to wildlife projects like the Bear where the animal did not speak but would nonetheless have their story told. Set in the end of the age of Dinosaurs, they would focus a great clash between the protagonist and his theropod archenemy.  Alas, things went sour. Executives meddled. The project is delayed and sunk in development. The original team is told that it’s all over. Then, years later,  a trailer will capture the imagination of the audience. In lush, state of the art effects, it looks like the original epic will finally arise from development hell into its glory. And then a second trailer comes out, this one with conversations and sending hopes spiraling down. Then the final product is released to mixed reviews at best, a box office failure and a very bad product.

This happened twice in my lifetime.