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Science loses with 'Dinosaur 13'

Matt Pais
Contact ReporterRedEye movie critic, music editor

* (out of four)

In 1990, some paleontologists found the most complete set of Tyrannosaurus rex fossils ever discovered. They were happy, of course. Then the FBI took control of the bones, and the researchers weren’t as happy.

That’s “Dinosaur 13” in a nutshell. This documentary does nothing to identify the diggers’ expert techniques or what was learned from uncovering the dinosaur better known as Sue, a fixture at Chicago’s Field Museum for the past decade-plus. Director Todd Douglas Miller also makes no effort to talk to FBI officials, or the man on whose land Sue was found and who also becomes a key part of the ownership debate. Surprises include the fact that dinosaur bones are old. Scores don’t get much more oppressive than a cello furiously trying to generate suspense as scientists put small bones into bags.

The embarrassingly one-sided “Dinosaur 13” is the kind of movie you watch for five minutes at a museum and walk away. Ross Geller would love it.

Originally published during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival


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