Review: Walking with Dinosaurs

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These days, children are used to monsters popping out of screens in 3D, but coming face-to-face with a brachiosaurus is something else. It's as real as you are going to get this side of the Jurassic period and, judging by the size and deafening roar of the things, it's probably as real as you want them to be, too.

The 15 life-sized dinosaurs of this arena show have stomped through stadiums around the world and are showing one last time in New Zealand, before accepting extinction for good.

Bringing all those precious fossils locked away in glass museum cabinets into context, the show blasts its audience 200 million years into the past for a sneak peek into a world dominated by creatures the length of 3 buses and weighing up to 80 tonnes.

Narrator "Huxley", a palaeontologist, serves not only to indulge the dinosaur geeks in a trivia session but also to act as a human yardstick to the show's huge stars.

He begins scampering away from liliensternus, the cheekiest of the carnivores, who is on a baby-snatching rampage, much to the distress of some young members of the audience.

But that's nothing. In what becomes an extravagant, gasp-a-minute science-circus, he narrowly escapes the sweep of a stegosaurus' plated tail, dodges the 60kg of armour on ankylosaurus' tail and misses being trampled by a long-neck, or brachiosaurus. And that's just the baby one.

Mama brachiosaurus, who emerges just before intermission, barely clears the light-rigging in the arena. The eyes of even the biggest kids in the audience light up when she cranes into the crowd and shows off the thunderous roar she hides behind her smile.

You can marvel at the craftsmanship and ponder just how sweaty the man running around in the raptor suit is getting for only so long before being swept up in the drama of the dinosaurs' fight for survival.

It was not only my 3-year-old neighbour who cowered when the star of any dinosaur show, tyrannosaurus rex, made her entry.

What's more terrifying than your average T-rex? An angry mother T-rex protecting her baby. My, what sharp teeth, what powerful thighs, and what a huge jaw she had.

If she couldn't survive the 100 million mega tonnes of comet that hit the Earth 65 million years ago, it would seem nothing could. She may be gone, but she will never be forgotten, especially not by the wide-eyed little ones in the audience.

ARENA SPECTACLE

What: Walking with Dinosaurs.
Where: Vector Arena.
When: On until July 10.

- NZ Herald

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