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The Ballad of Big Al is really the follow-up that greatly increases the
class of "Walking with Dinosaurs".
Big Al MUST be seen in combination with the second part of the special (The Science of Big Al). This way you at last get an idea of what clues we have on Dinosaurs and how the clues have been put together to get an idea of how the Dinosaurs might have lived.
Using the clues found within the skeleton of an Allosaurus (Big Al), the team has put together something like "This is your life", Big Al. Big Al is born, grows up, hunts and dies. Although the story is (of course) only speculation, it is very interesting and put together with a lot of love. Unlike the series (Walking with Dinosaurs), the Ballad of Big Al really tells the viewer that this is only an assumption of Big Al's life while also letting the viewer in on many of the key reasons for this assumption.
All in all this is a great follow-up. It's just too bad that "Walking with Dinosaurs" didn't have more of Big Al and the qualities of the follow-up.
Big Al Ballad is basically an extra episode of the Walking with Dinosaurs mini-series and it focuses on the life time of an Allosaur named Al, the originality in the name just kills me!! Anyway it is a great time revisiting the Late Jurassic and seen in a sense from the point of view of a predator, how was this environment. I love this documentary , because it feels like a 30 short movie with dinosaurs as the main characters and the fact that they made Al just an animal ,which it was and we still rooted for him ,is a sign of how well-made is this episode. Keep in mind that this, about 30 minutes long episode, makes you feel emotions for a creature ,which is dead for about a hundred forty five million year and there are directors today who can not achieve that with trained humans for the job! In the end just add it in your dinosaur documentary collection and show it to your kids.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As another reviewer has already mentioned, "Allosaurus: A Walking with
Dinosaurs Special" (hereafter "Allo") is essentially the seventh
episode of that magnificent pseudo-documentary series, and maintains
that series lofty production and narrative standards (including
retaining Kenneth Branaugh as solemn narrator). I think "Allo" was
created in response to some ineffable clamor for carnivore balance. In
other words, T-rex had his own episode on "Walking with Dinosaurs"; now
it's Allosaurus's turn to shine.
The first 30 minutes of "Allo" chronicles the relatively short but painfully eventful life of an Allosaurus, christened "Big Al". We follow his life from a tiny hatchling to a nearly full-grown subadult. He encounters stegosauruses. He participates in a rousing diplodocus hunt with others of his kind. He attempts to woo a much larger, more mature,and definitely more ferocious female allosaurus. Throughout his life, BigAl was basically the carnivorous dinosaur's answer to Evel Knievel. He suffered bites, scratches, lacerations, and bone dislocations, especially to his feet and legs. The litany of injuries finally takes its toll on Big Al, eventually losing his hunting ability and succumbing to starvation and thirst.
As I was watching "Allo", I was astonished by many things. For example, how did a hatchling the size of a pigeon grow to be a 3-4 ton apex predator? Also, where did Big Al's mother get her maternal instinct, enabling her to protect her brood like a mother crocodile from predators, including, unsuccessfully, against a cannibalistic male allosaurus? How many of Big Al's nest mates survived along with him (probably not too many; allosaurus chicks, like crocodile babies, probably had a very high mortality rate)? Did Allosaurus really cooperate to take down gigantic prey like Diplodocus? Did sexual dimorphism really exist among allosaurs, meaning size differences among the sexes, in this case females larger than males? Some of these questions are addressed in the second 30-minute half of "Allo", where fossil analysis speculates upon Big Al's life and provided inspiration for the first half.
One thing stood out prominently in "Allo": Big Al and his ilk may have been at the top of the food chain during the Jurassic, but their lives were far from easy. Despite their size, allosaurs must have had a tough time against the larger herbivores. As I recall, Big Al meets two stegosauruses but decides not to attack them, probably because of their sharp spiked tails and aggressive posture. During the thrilling diplodocus hunt on the salt flats, it takes three(!) allosauruses, including Big Al several hours to bring down even a sick, overheated member of the herd. Even after they start to consume the multi-ton carcass, a bigger female allosaurus arrives and threatens to claim the kill as her own. Speaking of females, Big Al's clumsy attempt to woo a female allosaurus literally ends in crushing failure. Most importantly, an allosaurus's feet and legs were its fortune; any serious damage to either could spell doom. Big Al breaks one of his middle toes while chasing one of the bipedal, relatively small Dryosaurs - a fatal wound for any hunter, but especially a two-legged one.
Both halves of the "Allo" disk provide intriguing scientific, paleontological, and zoological information about Big Al and his world. Of course, some of this information is speculative, which may put off some viewers, just as it may have done with the "Walking..." series. Also, a few viewers may disapprove of giving a dinosaur a name, as if he were a harmless pet, because it may lessen his dignity. Phffft! I think chances are you will enjoy learning about Big Al's life and death in "Allo". After all, T-rex has had enough press.
This is without doubt one of the very best documentaries have ever
seen. The Ballad of Big Al is a follow-up or extra episode for Walking
With Dinosaurs. It describes the life of a particularly big Allosaurus,
called Big Al, from the point where it hatches to it's death.
The amazing CGI seen in Walking With Dinosaurs was even better in The Ballad of Big Al. This documentary is missing absolutely nothing. It has breath-taking scenes as well as suspenseful and terrifying moments. I found myself often at the edge of my seat.
The story was well thought out and directed very nicely. The music and sound effects were top notch. Overall there are no real flaws in this documentary. There are absolutely no boring parts.
If you have the slightest interest in dinosaurs this documentary will definitely greatly satisfy you.
My Rating: 9.8/10
I was honestly touched by this show, really. Both parts of it, how they
entirely made the show in part 2, and the show itself in part 1.
Big Al is an amazing insight into the life of this creature, and what amazes me even more, was that I felt for the creature. I felt as though I was watching its life, and when Al died, I honestly felt bad for how it all ended for him.
I thought it was greatly done, just all in all. visually stunning, extremely informative, and it really does tell a story, a story that seems real.
For making me actually care about this, and for just such beautifully work (scientifically and story-line, which is also technically science :P) I give Big Al a 10/10.
And I'd like to say. Rest in Peace Big Al.
I have seen all 3 series of the "Walking with..." specials. They are all
high quality and add more of a wild life nature show feel to it than they do
a typical boring special on dinos.
Some really cool shots are in this film. For example:
When the baby Al and his siblings are feeding near a creek, we see them jumping up to try and catch dragonflies. One falls into the water. The scene is really cute. Yet also in on scene have a baby Al nip at the camera. This little touch makes this series so well done. Gets you out of the mind set of you are watching fake dinos and for a second makes you feel as though they are real.
Watch all of the Walking With series if you can get the chance.
This sequel of sorts does the original series proud, with Kenneth Branagh
narrator. As with _Walking With Dinosaurs (1999) (TV)_, the dinos are
CGI, with the use of puppetry for close ups.
The advancement of Tim Haines' skill is obvious, with freer moving cameras, highlighted by Al's Fifth Year, in which a pack of allosaurs break up a diplodicus herd to get at a sick member. It's truly exciting, with a rousing score by Ben Bartlett, and excellent motion camerawork.
The discovery of Big Al, the "star" of the show, in 1999 couldn't have come at a better time, coinciding with the debut of _Walking With Dinosaurs (1999) (TV)_ in the U.K. - a follow-up was an obvious choice, especially since Allosaurs made their presence felt in the chapter "Time of the Titans" as well as "Spirits of the Ice Forest". This also gave viewers a chance to see more of Brachiosaurus, which only made a brief cameo in the original series, as well as some dinos not seen, like Apatosaurus.
Later in 2001 will see the debut of Walking with Prehistoric Creatures, and with the high video and aural quality of the Allosaurus special, it's warmly welcomed.
The DVD features an excellent documentary on the discovery of Big Al, and at a retail price of $19.99, getting both Allosaurus and the documentary is a real steal.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Ballad of Big Al" is a 29-minute short film from 2000, so this one will soon have its 20th anniversary. It is an add-on for the television show "Walking with Dinosaurs" from one year earlier and Kenneth Branagh is once again the narrator, at least if you listen to the English version. The focus here is on the ill-fated life of a young allosaurus, so if you see the running time of under half an hour here, you may already guess correctly that it was cut short. Also with basically almost everything in here being fiction about the life of a dinosaur, I also would not really call it a documentary. The fact that they made a connection between a skeleton they found recently and a fictitious character is not enough to say it is a documentary. The name Big Al says it all already. This does not mean it's a weak or even bad film though. I mean 2 Emmy wins and a rating above 8 may be a bit on the exaggerated side, but it was an entertaining half hour with a nicely written fictitious plot. We also learn a bit about what life back then must have been like, so the film also delivers on an educational level. Overall, I give it a thumbs-up and it is certainly worth checking out, almost a must see if you got an above-average interest in dinosaurs.
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