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BMZ Review: Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure (3D/2D)
By Ann Coates


A group of Xiphactinus, the largest bony fish of the Late Cretaceous era, peruses the ocean in search of food. (©2007 NGHT Inc.)

Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure 3D
Written by: Ann Coates
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: October 5, 2007


Category: Reviews

National Geographic's latest foray into large format cinema, Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure 3D, examines the world of 82 million years ago, a time when the United States was split by a giant inland sea.  Composed almost entirely in CGI, Sea Monsters is an exciting romp into this prehistoric world, capitalizing on many 3D jumps and scares that surprisingly don't tire throughout the film.

Directed by Sean Phillips, Sea Monsters follows a family of Dolichorhynchops, "Dolly" for short, and their encounters with other prehistoric creatures.  Even before the title card, a deluge of impressive 3D computer-generated dinosaurs leap out of the screen, showcasing a masterful use of both 3D and CGI elements.  After this initial volley of prehistoric monsters, the film settles down a bit, lingering for a moment on the fossil records.  During these filmed, non-CGI scenes, the 3D falters producing some ghosting and blurring.  However, much of the film takes place undersea, and is comprised of some incredible computer-generated images of long-dead dinosaurs.

Viewers are first taken to Kansas, a most unlikely place to find underwater sea creatures.  But here, during the Late Cretaceous, in the middle of the United States existed an interior sea where we meet the dinosaurs of the deep.  Long stretches of plains are transformed into a vast inland sea.  Some of the more beautiful shots are those where the audience sits right above a blue ocean where the just-visible, glimmering images of sea creatures swim beneath.

From there, the film dives below revealing what appears to be an accurate depiction of animal life as it was millions of years ago.  Ranging from our guide, Dolly, to the more terrifying Cretoxyrihina, a prehistoric shark that reached up to 24 feet in length, the film allows an up-close look at each of the dinosaurs presented.  Perhaps the most frightening dinosaur of the lot is the Tylosaurus, a 45-foot long sea monster that could swallow its prey whole.  The dinosaurs look and move realistically -- one can easily forget that those on the screen were not filmed but generated digitally.

A competent narration by Liev Schreiber binds the film together, and a viewer may actually learn a thing or two in-between 3D assaults from sharp-toothed prehistoric predators.  Original music by Richard Evans, David Rhodes & Peter Gabriel accentuate the film without overpowering the visuals.  The story of "Dolly" is interesting enough, but doesn't carry much substance.  But the film's matter-of-fact approach to the life and death of these prehistoric creatures allow it to rise above sentimentality.  In addition, Sea Monster's main focus on education along with its many 3D shocks and jolts keep the film both intriguing and thrilling to watch.

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A Prehistoric Adventure by Ross Anthony

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