Ethan Switch - Tuesday, 16 January 2007
Distraction is watching the flashes smash against the flickering play of lights from merchandise spread aplenty from the stands. Much as the force of bright ruins the natural colours of a shot in the dark. Tickets and passes to the show cough up the little reminder, "No photography or recording devices allowed."
From the disembodied spirit of the arena floor, still smelling of the Superdome, the voice warns all that there will be pain to be met upon those who choose to startle the dinosaurs of the exhibit. Pain or something else, severe nonetheless. But hey, when the masses go crazy with the cameras, it's all on like Donkey Kong.
Taking the stadium on a quaint little journey back a few million years in time, Walking With Dinosaurs is much like watching an impassioned teacher take the class on an excursion that just doesn't compare with any other exhibit. A lesson in several parts with an overarching atmosphere of sheer awe of the presence of the dinosaurs and this time detective what narrates the lesson keeps the shindig from sliding into a mere spectator's gawk.
Puppets and animatronics breathe quirky life into the dinosaurs and it's at times easy to forget that there are puppeteers running around inside. Particularly in such scenes as the feeding off of a carcass and as the bipedal and more agile of the sets run around the stadium floor. They work the magic well and the humour and playfulness is hard to deny.
Sights such as a plodding Brachiosaurus can totally blind the view of the trolley shuffling the massive feet along. Size is impressive and they certainly know how to scale the experience to render more than just a chart of lines against the height of an ordinary silhouette looking to escape the rap for being a mere bystander of history.
Theatrics and the history lesson is nothing short on the shallow learning curve. Formation of the planet's continental plates as well as the vital plant life and eco systems playing as much a part of the show as the scaly ancestors of the birds themselves. Can't say that watching Walking With Dinosaurs doesn't at least provide a refresher course on the major plot points in the life and times of they who once ruled the earth.
Skin detail is without lack of devotion and the script seems to be the only hokey thing about the production. Minor gaffes in the delivery, the charm of the paleontologist sparks the conversation like a man from Snowy River.
Sadly all things come to an end. Like the passing of time that clocks in no more than ninety minutes, the world and the people watch on as the Earth takes a hit from a wayward comet (or asteroid) to end the show.