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Not quite IMAX giants

Up-and-coming animation

Published April 26, 2007

[Special to the Times]
Dinosaurs are always interesting, but Patagonia isn't a stunner.

The Animation Show, Year 3 (not rated, probably PG-13) (87 min.) - Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeld attained their share of fame and fortune through animation. Hosting an annual collection of traditional and computer animation works is a penitent favor to artists who haven't done the same.

The third installment of The Animation Show includes famous names (Bill Plympton, Hertzfeld) and several that may ring a bell someday. One I can vouch for is Shane Acker, whose rag doll-against-the-machine fable, 9, was a fond 2005 Telluride Film Festival experience and later an Oscar nominee.

Plympton's entry is Guide Dog, a sequel to the Oscar-nominated short Guard Dog. This time, the same crazed canine leads sightless owners through everyday hazards. Hertzfeld contributes Everything Will Be OK to the varied program.

Don't confuse this collection with Spike and Mike's sick, twisted offerings, although it is recommended for ages 13 and older. The Animation Show is playing at Tampa Theatre evenings this week except Tuesday and Saturday, when concerts are scheduled.

Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia (not rated, probably PG) (43 min.) - Dinosaurs are the easiest way to get people into museums. Sending them away feeling smarter and suitably thrilled is something Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry has done before.

But not this time, not quite. Marc Fafard's IMAX documentary Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia stars paleontologist Rodolfo Coria, who doesn't add much to Dino 101 except a few more hard-to-spell names for species whose bones were discovered after Jurassic Park.

Another drawback is that Patagonia, in southern Argentina, isn't an especially photogenic place by IMAX standards. Rocky bluffs and sparsely vegetated land simply don't deserve the swooping aerial shots and grandiose music of this film. But that's where Coria found remnants of Argentinosaurs and Gigantosaurs - essentially larger brontosaurs and T. rexes - so what else can you do?

The answer: Fill in the blank vistas with as many dinosaurs as possible and hope nobody has any questions for the professor.

Fafard employs state-of-the art computer animation to show what these behemoths must have looked like from all angles. Re-creating the meteor shower that likely doomed these creatures is a spectacular sequence. His screenplay, soberly recited by actor Donald Sutherland, assigns proper names to a couple of beasts, attempting an audience bond that never materializes. Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia is merely the same old predator vs. prey story.

A few more dinosaurs make guest appearances, including a meddling, feathered ancestor of chickens that Steven Spielberg would never cast in an adventure. Most of the extras resemble species we've known before. Without further explanation of what makes them different, only dino-freaks would bother memorizing the names.

Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia isn't a waste of time. The attack scenes are loudly intense enough for an introductory warning to parents of small children. Sitting in a theater is a good way to rest those aching feet, and MOSI's domed IMAX experience is always worthwhile. Especially for movies that deserve such magnificent treatment, unlike this one. B-

[Last modified April 25, 2007, 20:27:44]

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