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Originally published October 5, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 5, 2007 at 2:01 AM

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Movie review

"Sea Monsters" | It's not your typical fish story

Kids (and grown-ups) with a thing for dinosaurs should see this thrilling IMAX 3-D spectacle about the 82-million-year-old creatures that...

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 3.5 stars

"Sea Monsters 3D: A Prehistoric Adventure," an IMAX

documentary directed by Sean MacLeod Phillips. 40 minutes. Not rated; suitable for general audiences. IMAX at the Pacific Science Center.

Kids (and grown-ups) with a thing for dinosaurs should see this thrilling IMAX 3-D spectacle about the 82-million-year-old creatures that swam about the world's oceans killing, playing, surviving and generally being just totally cool to look at.

A 40-foot-long Tylosaurus (the T. rex of the deep) leaps from the pearlescent depths of immaculately computer-rendered waters directly into your face — its giant, toothy maw crunching on some hapless, flopping lesser beast destined for the gullet. In a few contrasting live-action segments, paleontologists unearth the bones of these creatures, some of which have undigested fossilized fish within their petrified bellies. Survival of the fittest, indeed.

With ample production help from the National Geographic Society, this gripping adventure narrative is undoubtedly as accurate as it is well-told.

Five special-effects companies in four countries had a hand in creating the stunning computer animation that makes up the bulk of the film. Whether the scene is of ghostly prehistoric jellyfish floating before your eyes or time-lapse scenes that depict millions of years going by in seconds, the results are consistently extraordinary.

The re-created scenes of scientists doing their work in the field are also fairly astonishing for their 3D-friendly framing and orderly sense of movement. Dirt stains on a car window or dust filtering through a paleontologist's brush never looked so lifelike. Of course, there's a science lesson in all this excitement, but that can take a backseat to the coolness of the high-tech fakery.

There's lots of exceptional music written and/or supervised by Peter Gabriel that enhances the intensity, even though Liev Schreiber's dry monotone narration often works against it all.

Still, if you want to see something that just screams, "Oh, wow!," this latest IMAX 3-D feature is better than a lifelong angler's best fish story.

Ted Fry: tedfry@hotmail.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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