Friday, October 13, 2006

Hot tyrannosaur action

I've been watching the dinosaur scenes in Peter Jackson's King Kong with London these last few evenings. Those being the brontosaur stampede and the scene with King Kong fighting the three tyrannosaurs. It's all very, very good. No other dinosaur footage in any movie or documentary even comes close. The "brontosaurs" are not convincing as Apatosaurus--nor are they intended to be--but they look about right for Cetiosaurus or Jobaria, especially the size of the latter. They've got big rows of hooves on their front feet, like all movie sauropods and most from children's books. In truth, the forefeet of most neosauropods--your favorites like Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, and Brachiosaurus--were vertical tubes of bone wrapped in skin, and only had thumb claws, which faced inward and backward. This is probably the hardest aspect of sauropod anatomy for artists. If you draw sauropod forefeet correctly, they look goofy. But that's what the morphology shows; Darren had a great post on it a while back. However, more basal sauropods like the mamenchisaurids had claws--not hooves, claws--on all five toes. Cetiosaurus at least consistently comes out down the tree with those guys, so the King Kong sauropods are credible cetiosaurs.

But the sauropods are merely cool. The tyrannosaurs are mind-blowing. I really think that except for perhaps being a bit less athletic, real tyrannosaurs probably looked like that and moved like that.

Here's a question for discussion: given that T. rex had the strongest bite of any animal every by a very wide margin, thousands of pounds of pressure and all that, would even King Kong be able to pull a tyrannosaur's mouth open against its will?

My one wish about that fight scene is that the deaths of the first two tyrannosaurs ought to have been gorier and more graphic. The first gets its head crushed with a boulder and the second get its noggin pulped against a cliff wall, but in both cases the camera shows the moment of impact and then cuts or glides away. I want to see those heads bust wide open till the white meat shows!

In the annals of dinosaur battles that are not nearly as famous as they ought to be, check out The Valley of Gwangi (cowboys versus dinosaurs in the Old West!) to see an Allosaurus fight a circus elephant. That movie climaxes with the protagonist fighting the marauding carnosaur inside a burning church, in a scene that involves such a collision of evolutionary, religious, American, and cinematic artifacts that it about made my head bust open.

Also, in the annals of scenes I want to see in a movie but haven't yet and probably never will, it would be awesome to see a tyrannosaur take a shoulder-fired antitank missile right in its open mouth. I want a blood-tinged fireball of flying teeth and bloody chunks of head, along the lines of some of the exploding nasties from Starship Troopers.

Finally, and waaay off topic, could the Men In Black movies have possibly sucked any more balls? No? I didn't think so. G'night.

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Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

The dinosaur scenes in Jacksons' King Kong were indeed a real accomplishment .. that stampede was the most exciting I've seen on screen for many, many years

3:41 AM  
Anonymous Brad McFeeters said...

" would be awesome to see a tyrannosaur take a shoulder-fired antitank missile right in its open mouth. I want a blood-tinged fireball of flying teeth and bloody chunks of head..."

I can sort of recall seeing a movie like that as a kid. I think it was Carnosaur 2 or Carnosaur 3?

2:46 PM  
Blogger Darren Naish said...

Gwangi - as in, the big theropod that stars in The Valley of Gwangi - is meant to be a tyrannosaur, not an allosaur, right? At least, that's what it says in the literature (e.g. Horner & Lessem's book). Thanks for the plug (WRT the post on sauropod hands).

4:59 AM  
Blogger Dr. Vector said...

I have always been under the impression that it is supposed to be allosaur. It has three fingers, but that didn't mean too much back in the '50s. It just sort of exudes allosaurishness. I get no tyrannosaur vibe at all. But I haven't watched the movie in something like a decade, so I really couldn't say.

I would like to say that the scene in which the cowboys lasso Gwangi may be the coolest thing ever filmed.

11:59 PM  

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