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      Sea Monsters 3D: A Prehistoric Adventure Review

      Sea Monsters 3D: A Prehistoric Adventure poster

      Sea Monsters 3D: A Prehistoric Adventure

      Michael Esposito, Chicago Tribune

      National Geographic's "Sea Monsters 3D: A Prehistoric Adventure" dives into the toothy Cretaceous era's undersea world where the Great Plains were part of the seabed in an inland sea, a North American Mediterranean, 80 million years ago.

      The stories, narrated by Liev Schreiber, are based on fossil records. For example, the star of the film is a female dolichorhynchops or "doli" (pronounced "dolly"), a dolphin-sized marine reptile that fed mainly on fish and squid. We follow her from birth to death, including an attack by a shark that wounded her rear flipper. That tale is based on the find of a doli fossil with a shark tooth embedded in its rear flipper with evidence of healing, indicating that she survived the attack.

      While on the topic of predation, there are quite a few food fish and squid chomped (nothing very bloody), and the scavenging of a mortally wounded giant predator by a school of great white-sized sharks is kept off camera. There are a few moments when predators appear that might make some little ones jump, but if they're into dinosaurs, these aquatic cousins aren't likely to scare them too much. A child old enough to watch "Shark Week" on cable television won't bat an eye here.

      There are plenty of close creature glide-by shots. Several favorites are of the "Star Wars" star destroyer fly-by variety, a massive shape that looms overhead and keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Very cool.

      Unlike the recent "Dinosaurs 3D: Giants of Patagonia," the focus never really falls on any one paleontologist, so it spends a bit more of its time on the creatures. There are cutaways to different fossil discoveries through history and across continents, but the best moments are spent in the seas with creatures that you'd never really want to meet in the water.

      Running time: 0:40. Opens Friday at Navy Pier IMAX. Also opens Friday in a 2D version on the Museum of Science and Industry's Omnimax screen. No MPAA rating (some scenes of prehistoric natural predation).

      ? Michael Esposito

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