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January 6, 2013
Flying Monsters 3D Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
None5/9/2012MadmanMatthew Dyas
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
MVC/AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1GDavid Attenborough (narrator)

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Flying Monsters 3D is on Blu-Ray now.

First thing to point out - while this film is called Flying Monsters 3D it can also be viewed on an old-school 2DTV, so if you're after documentary about dinosaurs taking to the skies this National Geographic documentary has you covered if you don't have the latest TV technology. This was indeed a documentary that had my interest as soon as the disc landed in my mailbox.

Flying Monsters 3D starts 220 million years ago when dinosaurs were beginning their domination of Earth. But another group of reptiles was about to make an extraordinary leap: pterosaurs were taking control of the skies. The story of how and why these mysterious creatures took to the air is more fantastical than any fiction. This documentary, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, sets out to uncover the truth about the enigmatic pterosaurs, whose wingspans of up to 40 feet were equal to that of a modern day jet plane.

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The 3D effect, if you have a 3DTV, impresses.
Running for a lean 39 minutes Flying Monsters 3D, even with Sir David Attenborough's participation and the National Geographic tag feels a little pedestrian and light on. Sure, there are some interesting factoids, and the visuals range from stunning to sometimes too CG-ish, but for us it lacked the pizazz of Walking with Dinosaurs. Still, it has its moments (not least of which when at 16:33 the wireframe pterosaur pops out of the monitor and walks around the room) but it's not a documentary I could watch over and over.

This isn't the best documentary we've ever seen, but it offers a decent, visually pleasing insight into the pterosaur and with Sir David Attenborough on-screen and providing narration it moves up a few notches from average, to above average.

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Flying Monsters 3D, hosted by David Attenborough.
Flying Monsters 3D was one of the first feature documentaries created with the extra dimension in 2010 for Sky TV as well as IMAX cinema screens, and while it still has some impressive moments it isn't the most gorgeous of 3D films. Sure, there's depth there, but at times colours are a bit muted and perhaps my enthusiasm is dulled somewhat as, occasionally, there is some rather bland CG work (I must point out though that there are other times though when the CG very much impresses).

The transfer on Blu-Ray is provided in AVC/MVC MPEG-4 at a HDTV-filling 1.78:1 aspect ratio. With a bitrate that often runs above 30Mbps this is a pretty nice looking documentary that featured on IMAX screens in the theatrical run in early 2011 (funnily enough it premiered on Christmas Day 2010 as the first 3D documentary screen on British television. The 3D effect in this documentary really is quite good, especially some sections in the film when flying through jungles - there's a real sense of depth there.

Flying Monsters 3D comes to Blu-Ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (24-bit/48Khz) track and as you can imagine it's a pretty passive affair with limited ability to make this a standout disc. Most importantly Sir David Attenborough's narration is crystal clear and a joy to listen to - he just has that sound of knowledge to him that makes any documentary much more engrossing. Of course there are sound effects to complement the on-screen action and they get the job done, with some surround sound use at times.

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Glider vs a massive pterosaur.
There are no other audio tracks on this release, but there are two subtitle tracks available if you need them - an English SDH track, and a Spanish track. We tested the former out and it was accurate to the narration by Sir David Attenborough.

Upon starting the Blu-Ray you will encounter a trailer for the documentary The Last Lions (1:39) but beyond that there are only a few other, albeit rather interesting, extras on the disc...

Q&A With David Attenborough (18:20/HD): To me Sir David Attenborough is a worldwide treasure and whenever he talks he is riveting. This Q&A was filmed after an IMAX screening and offers an insight into David's thoughts on the feature film but also more information on the animals featured in the documentary. Definitely worth checking out.

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Jungle scenes look fantastic in 3D (and 2D).
Flying Monsters IMAX Trailer (1:15/HD): This is the Theatrical Trailer for the documentary.

Meet the Monsters (HD): This section contains details and factoids on three of the monsters that appear in the documentary - Dimorphodon, Tapejara and Quetzelcoatlus.

I'll admit that when I received this disc I was very keen to check it out - the prospect of flying monsters (read: Dinosaurs) and in 3D no less was a very juicy proposition. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the visuals in Flying Monsters 3D are often breathtaking, in either 3D or 2D incarnations, this is only a decent documentary - it's too short and covers too little. If you can pick it up cheap, and especially if you want a 3D disc, then it’s worth a look.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Madman. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.