Dinosaur 13 (2014) – Review

As seen on CinemaParadiso.


Dinosaurs are something not just loved by nerdy little boys. There are so many questions surrounding their types, way of life, and death, that it is a mystery that attracts all. In Dinosaur 13 (not as cool of a name as the 2002 book from which it comes – Rex Appeal), we look back twenty-four years, to a group that were looking back even further. This documentary had all of the interesting points – discovery, dinosaurs, and even an apparent big-scale conspiracy theory – but still found itself lacking in entertainment.

The film follows the story of Peter Larson, a palaeontologist whose group makes the biggest dinosaur discovery before or since. The event occurred in 1990, but it was what happened afterwards that turned it into the bigger story. Two years after excavating an almost-complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton – named Sue – the team found themselves battling the United States government, museums, Native American tribes, and other palaeontologists. The film follows the ten-year battle, that saw fossils taken, careers in jeopardy, and one member of the team in prison. Why was this discovery so controversial, and how would it all end?

For the most part, this film wasn’t bad. It had its moments where it dragged and the audience could easily lose interest, but the story was an interesting one, and you wanted to see how it would all end.

Like I said before, dinosaurs aren’t just a topic of interest for little boys, but the seriousness of the film and the emphasis more on legal/political matters, might not make it the kind of film that will be for everyone.
The video quality is oftentimes quite poor as well, as some of the footage was taken back in the 90s before cameraphones and HD video. This might turn-off some of the younger audience members who weren’t alive then.

Dinosaur 13 does, however, have a strong way of gathering the Davids in the hope of slaying Goliath. They do well in making you want the ‘little guys’ to win and find out the real reason behind why all of these events had to happen. But, they tend to play the sympathy card a bit too much. Sure, we feel bad for them in that their whole lives were turned upside down, but there are a lot more important things going on in the world. They also focus more on emotion, than on logic. There were more angles – like the deeper legal implications – that were simply not explored as thoroughly as they could have been.

Reviews have been quite mixed. It obviously has struck a cord with an audience, giving it a wider release than previously expected. The online reviews have been predominately positive, and it’s sure to be played in a lot of schools all over the world.

Overall, this film is worth taking a look at.

3 out of 5 stars