Walking With Dinosaurs
Dinosaurs may be extinct, but they still rule the world. When the first episode of the six-part BBC series Walking with Dinosaurs originally aired, an estimated one out of every four Britons tuned in. What they witnessed was dinosaurs brought to life, not in the modern world as in Jurassic Park, but in their original habitats millions of years ago. Revived using computer-generated effects that cost close to $5 million and sophisticated animatronic models, the dinosaurs look barely a day over 150 million years old. The creators present the series in classic nature-documentary style, complete with an authoritative narrator (Kenneth Branagh) to guide the viewer through the footage of dinosaurs mating, fighting, raising their young, grazing, or, in the case of carnivores, hunting. Each episode focuses on a theme, whether it is a particular era, such as the Mesozoic, or a particular type of dinosaur, like those that ruled the oceans. Each part also focuses in on the life of an individual dinosaur or family of dinosaurs. The result is a series of short dramas that both inform and entertain.
The show is so realistic that some scientists and viewers have criticized its seamless blending of fact and speculation. Those who wish to maintain a healthy skepticism about the theories set forth should watch the exclusive footage from The Making of Walking with Dinosaurs included on the DVD and available via mail-in on the VHS. In it, the scientists freely admit that some educated guesswork was involved and explain how they arrived at the dinosaurs' appearances and behavior. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with every detail of the re-creation, it is difficult to deny that Walking with Dinosaurs succeeds in providing dinosaur lovers with an experience that can't be matched by mere images of paleontologists and fossils.
There's an extra 15 minutes of footage on the video that wasn't broadcast on TV, much of it dinosaurs attacking each other. With the violence, plus explanations of mating, cannibalism, and other terrifying things, young kids should skip it. Dinosaur enthusiasts of age 6 and up should be fine; it's far less violent than anything from the Jurassic Park films. --Eugene Wei
Top Customer Reviews
As almost all others have mentioned, the overall production design is beyond impressive, and beggars the word "clever." Witty, thoughtful, convincing, and highly entertaining.
Unfortunately (for us), there is one dramatic trope that appears in literally every episode of this and the later "Walking With Prehistoric Beasts" series: eating babies. Sometimes creatures eat their own young for murky defensive reasons; sometimes predators pick off defenseless baby prey; sometimes territorial males eat their competitors' babies; sometimes giant ants eat cute hatchlings.
I can't fault the dramatic effect of these passages, and the continuing theme that competition is the engine of evolution is accurate and effectively presented. But it takes the air out of my little boy's enthusiasm when he constantly expects the cute baby dinosaurs to be messily devoured, and it makes me grimace to watch him watching it. Those scenes are not especially suspenseful, and don't seem to agitate him (he got a lot more anxious at "Finding Nemo"). But when his reaction to two Allosaurus eating a baby Diplodocus is "look, they're sharing!", I decided the infanticide just wasn't age-appropriate.
We put the series aside for now, and maybe we'll take it up again in a year.
There is a 50 minute "Making Of" documentary in the second disc and about 29 minutes of behind-the-scenes picture-in-picture footage spread through-out the first disc. The behind-the-scenes footage tells you how they did the effects, why they picked certain locations and why they made the dinosaurs do what they did. Some of the behind-the-scenes footage is also shown in the "Making Of", so there is some overlap.
Interesting, but much of the information was already well known and covered by older shows or children's books. And, yes, lots of babies seem to die. A lot. THAT is nature, but maybe not something younger viewers should be exposed to in so many scenes.
* Presented in story style of real animal documentaries: Each of the six episodes follows a small number of dinosaurs for a period of time; we learn about their relationships with each other and their environmental struggles
* "Making of" bonus DVD is a treat for older viewers interested in seeing how the episodes were made. THERE WAS A LOT OF INTERACTION WITH PALEONTOLOGISTS DURING THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS THAT ADDS TONS OF CREDIBILITY AND REALISM TO THE END PRODUCT.
* Animations as real (or better) than Jurassic Park
* Comprehensive focus on different periods (Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous) of the dinosaurs and wonderful background on the different climates and geology of these periods
Anyone, young or old, with an interest in dinosaurs should get this. There may be some parts that frighten young viewers, so parents should screen it first and be with kids during the kids' first viewing. BUT THIS IS PHENOMENALLY ENTERTAINING AND EDUCATIONAL FOR EVERYONE.
Most recent customer reviews
The name says it all! "Walking with Dinosaurs" beats most other movies a million to one! The best part about this movie is the fact that it is moderatly modest, making it a... Read morePublished on July 7 2007 by Pro-reviewer
Walking with Dinosaurs is an interesting series for lovers of natural history. I have not seen the Discovery Channel version with Avery Brooks narrating, but only the DVD-version... Read morePublished on Nov. 23 2003 by Hakon Soreide
I saw this program when it aired on the Discovery Channel, and I loved it. Now my kids love it, too. Read morePublished on Nov. 10 2003 by Citizen Steve
After reading alot of these reviews it becomes quite clear that this series is both education AND entertainment. People have a right to there opinions. Read morePublished on Aug. 29 2003 by E K Maxmias
The release of the movie "Jurassic Park" renewed the spark of interest in dinosaurs, and spawned several inferior copycats, documentaries, and two sequels of lesser quality. Read morePublished on June 11 2003 by Archanubis80
Not so much a program as it was an event. Walking with Dinosaurs was without a doubt one of the most stunning releases to come from the BBC. Read morePublished on April 11 2003 by AxiomAlchemy
Given the amount of time and money put into the production of this series (3 years and approx. $9million) you might expect that the producers would be careful to make it as... Read morePublished on Feb. 28 2003 by Karl
My 3 year old son is a dino expert - ever since viewing Disney's Dinosaur, he's been obsessed! He loves this set because it is realistic and shows dinos in their habitats. Read morePublished on Oct. 26 2002 by Jen