T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 11/23/98 22:25:55

"The older you are, the less it will matter, but the effects rule."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

IMAX can be one hell of an ordinary experience for anyone over the age of ten. The educational tilt that is so much a part of the IMAX experience in order to lure in millions of kiddies really fails to take full advantage of the medium. But it would seem that the big screen folks are finally getting their act together. T-REX is quite an involving experience. It makes much better use of the big screen and it's awesome 3D abilities than any other recent release.

And, strangely, it almost has a story. Instead of being a 45 minute documentary on dinosaurs, T-REX follows the eperience of Ally (Liz Stauber - Can't Hardly Wait), the daughter of a reknowned paleontologist (Peter Horton - 2 Days In The Valley, The End Of Violence). When her father digs up a dino-egg, she's accidentally exposed to some weird gas from within and, well, starts to trip out.

The skeletons and fossils around the huge museum she's standing in start to evolve into their original form. The museum becomes ancient rainforest and she finds herself face to face with big ass dinosaurs and such.

But this is no Jurassic Park rip-off. Ally is not hunted by these creatures as much as she's a passive observer in their world, which is a shame. Of course, being IMAX, you won't find yourself getting scared. You won't even find yourself wondering if she'll be okay in the end. This is all strictly rated G stuff, guaranteed not to traumatise the most weak stomached eight year old.

The 3D effects are quite awesome, and the IMAX technology makes 3D look a hundred times better than it could ever look on 35mm, but you find yourself disappointed that more isn't done with it.

While the backdrops and effects are amazing, there's an awful lot of time spent on showing Ally stand in awe at things around her; things we can't see. In fact, the dinosaurs don't really come into play until the story has been set up, about 20 minutes in.
It's a pity that even with such great effects and a semblance of a story, that the producers feel the need to revert to audience "observation" rather than audience "involvement". They seem to not yet understand that visual involvement is nothing without being mentally involved.

It's time for IMAX to take it to the next level. Either make full feature films with all the traditional elements of story and plot, or stick to half assed after-school Discovery Channel flicks.

T-REX is getting closer to the promise IMAX has always showed, and is worth a look if for no other reason than to savour the phenomonal 3D advances, but it's still a way's off truly exploring the full potential of the big screen format. It is definitely the future of film, but the future is a way off yet.

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