Walking with Dinosaurs

Image by josh

Dinosaur skeletons, in museums the world over, are usually impressively tall and confusingly old, but they’re empty, by definition without life. Every dinosaur-lover and most dinosaur dilettantes have daydreamed about what it would have been like to see a Tyrannosaurus Rex–not in movies, or as a skeleton, but actually in person.

The answer, as it turns out is: it would have been loud and scary. Any smart herbivors in the Key Arena area last night would have done well to flee when the T Rex stormed in to defend her baby.

There are obvious flaws in Walking with Dinosaurs. The narration is, indeed, a little hokey, a little strained, like the script is trying to pander to the kids in the audience without boring the adults, and it usually falls pretty flat. Given that the show is made up of expensive robots and people in dinosaur suits, the fighting tends to be a little…conceptual, a lot of standing and roaring and looking like at any minute everyone is about to break out in a dance number. The Ornithocheirus was underutilized, flapping its wings in front of a video screen for quite a bit longer than it probably should have been.

But the point is, the dinosaurs, and those are worth every minute. A Plateosaurus protects her nest from a hungry Liliensternus with convincing bluster, two Torosaurus square off for control of the herd, bellowing loudly, tossing their heads, and circling each other until one is finally driven off. Two gentle Brachiosaurus, the adult 40 feet tall, loom over the audience and nearly tangle their heads in the lights. At the climax the mama T Rex defends her baby with terrifying roars. A few times I wasn’t entirely convinced that the dinosaurs weren’t about to lean over and bite my face off. And I would have donated a limb or one of my companions to be able to take a ride on the Ankylosaurus.

It’s really a remarkable achievement, bringing 15 life-sized dinosaurs–10 of them giant robots–to the Seattle Center. Kids will probably love it, and, if we are any indication, so will adults who loved dinosaurs as kids.

The show runs through Sunday.

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