The Great Wall
Unlike any American blockbuster you've seen, a conservative movie with action set pieces that are actually inventive and thrilling enough to be worthwhile.
“Dinosaur 13” is “Kramer vs. Kramer” for paleontologists, an absorbing documentary that recounts a torturous decade-long custody battle over the miraculously well-preserved skeletal leftovers of a Tyrannosaurus Rex that were discovered along a remote stretch of the South Dakota prairie.
As in the 1979 best-picture winner about a divorced father who fights the judicial system to keep his son, there is a heart-rending relationship at the core of “Dinosaur 13” that is initially one of joy and triumph before it becomes mired in perplexing legalities, grandstanding politics, hurtful accusations and unfair repercussions.
Instead of a boy named Billy, there is a T. Rex named Sue–so dubbed in honor of the intrepid excavating volunteer Susan Hendrickson, who first stumbled upon this magnificent specimen one hot August day in 1990. Sue is no run-of-the-mill 65-million-year-old, however. She is the Hope Diamond of dinosaurs, the 13th of her kind ever found as well as the largest and most complete, with at least 80% of her bones recovered. Just to gaze upon this beast’s intact 5-foot-long skull with its fearsome dagger-like teeth puts all the cinematic versions of such prehistoric creatures to shame.
If anyone is the Dustin Hoffman of this saga, it’s Peter Larson. Even as a child, this resident of tiny Hill City, SD, who is President and Co-Founder of the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research was driven to dig up Earth’s deepest past for future generations to study and ponder. True, he is a businessman who makes a living by selling these rare treasures, often to international buyers, but when Larson first spied three of Sue’s sun-baked vertebrae sticking through a mound of rubble, it was love at first sight.