With his boundless passion for the natural world David Attenborough has educated millions. In over four decades of broadcasting there’s no one who manages to convey quiet, understated enthusiasm quite like him.
Flying Monsters 3D is a documentary about the flying lizards of our pre-historic past, the contemporaries to the dinosaurs who ruled the skies for millions of years. For anyone that’s even remotely interested in the subject, the very idea of something like this being brought to the big screen should have them salivating.
Attenborough patiently explains the way that tree climbing and gliding lizards could have evolved from the four foot flapping Dimorphodon into the colossal glider-sized Quetzelocoatlus and how the winged lizards’ demise may have been sealed not by a gigantic meteorite but by the arrival of the feathered birds.
Aided by the wonders of modern technology, fossilised skeletons spring to life and assemble themselves before your very eyes, fleshing themselves out into living breathing CGI creations which not only reveal every little biological detail – every piece of bone structure, every tiny wing membrane but also the lush tropical environments and soaring landscapes that they would have inhabited.. It makes understanding a fairly complicated subject easy and enthralling.
As Attenborough travels the world speaking to experts in fossil hot spots, it’s impossible not to be awed by the sheer age of some of the relics on display – 120 million years is an almost unfathomably long amount of time.
It’s simply wonderful – a short but sweet look at how nature can be so diverse and yet so beautiful, told by one of the best presenters the world has ever produced.
If there are any criticisms, it’s that it’s a bit too short. 40 minutes isn’t a long time for a cinematic experience no matter how astounding or informative and even though ticket prices have been reduced (they got for as little as £9 for adults and £6.50 if you’re a student at the BFI IMAX), it’s still a hefty price to pay for such a short film, and the 3D while adding to the sense of scale (3D works best in environments which allow full range of movement, so flight is ideal) isn’t breathtaking.
If this were on TV, it’d be an absolute must see – a visually spectacular, informative and thoroughly enjoyable documentary. Whether you think that warrants the tenner to see it in the cinema is another matter entirely, but the content is magnificent and more than that will actually inspire the imaginations and curiosity of adults and children alike.