Dinos roam the hall
At first it was because they were slow and stupid, or so the quick and supposedly nimble-minded believed. And then it was because rodents got into the eggpen. And then it was some gigantic meteor blowing a hole in the Earth and creating a century-long winter. Then it was a mutated retrovirus, a flu. And now, maybe it's because they were smoking non-filtered cigarettes. Dinosaurs, extinct? Not if you hang around Bishop Museum long enough. They're baaa-aaack.
On exhibit: Daily through Jan. 26
Place: Bishop Museum
Admission: $15.95, adults; $12.95, children and seniors; free for members (Bring a non-perishable Kraft Foods product for the Hawaii Foodbank and receive $3 off keiki admission
Call: 848-3511 or visit www.bishopmuseum.org
The new show is "Dinosaurs Alive!" and it runs through Jan. 26. If you're expecting a rerun of the mighty T-Rex "Sue" exhibit of a few years ago, better scale down your expectations. This is a smaller, quieter, more child-friendly extravaganza.
It's still full of animatronic rubber dinosaurs, created by the Wonderworks company. Any recreated dinosaur is one part paleoscience, one part anatomical logic and nine parts purely artistic speculation, and for the most part, the Wonderworks creations give you a good sense of the size and heft of the genuine creature. On the other hand, about half the dinos represented are infants and adolescents, and so they're tons smaller and far more cuddly than any slobbering terror-lizard has a right to be. Again, kid-friendly. You want to pet the baby Apatosaurus on the head.
And they move, lurching back and forth upon their hidden pneumatical gearworks. Here, Wonderworks needs to tweak things. Their dinosaurs are somewhat stiff and, well, robotic. There's a small Triceratops that kids can manipulate with levers, and sure enough, they have it heaving back and forth and wiggling woodenly, to the sound of clanking gears and huffing-puffing tubing. I was reminded of Rush Limbaugh's imitation of Michael J. Fox: Not a pretty sight.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Visitors enjoyed an interactive exhibit at the new "Dinosaurs Alive!" show at Bishop Museum's Family Sunday last month.
A couple of things seemed missing, and it takes a moment to sort out. The first is that Castle Memorial Building's exhibit area wheels around a centerpiece display stage, and the focus piece generally occupies that spot. But "Dinosaurs Alive" has shoveled in a puny diorama of a mama Protoceratops wreaking havoc with a couple of dog-sized velociraptors. It's nice, but hardly a main attraction.
The other things is -- it's silent. No bellows, roars, growls, cries, mutters, snarls or monstrous shrieks. It's eerie, and doesn't seem right, even if it's prerecorded fake animal noise. There's a disconnect. They move, but don't talk. I'm reminded of the former World Wildlife Museum on Dillingham -- 200 gigantic stuffed animals in one place, and it smelled like a microchip assembly clean room. Disconnect.
Maybe giant rubber monsters scare the kiddies. The youngsters I observed were certainly having a good time, as the exhibit provides plenty of interactive activities and the lessons are easily absorbed, indicating they're well-written and presented.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Adrian Rojas, held by his grandfather Duane Caringer, made a "dinosaur face" to match that of his small rubber dinosaur at Bishop Museum last month.
There are castings of fossils, dinosaur costumes -- one horn or two? -- reptile stamps, a Claymation video, occasional visitations by paleontologists -- the only career that has no future, yuk yuk -- and face painting and wall art and, and ...
Leave it to pontificating adults to wax flatulent about whether Wonderworks' interpretation of the Dilophosaurus is rather too slim and Chinese-dragony, rather than the stiff and stately dowagers the type is usually associated with.
Speaking of adults, what's this? A room with a parental advisory? May be too intense for young children?
And here's where we find the centerpiece that should be out front. A towering Utahraptor ripping the head off some unfortunate sauropod, blood and strings of viscera and gore everywhere ...
A young couple with their kids entered behind me.
"Yuck!" sputtered the wife.
"Oh, yeahhhhh!" grinned the husband.
The two toddlers ran over and, beaming, stood amid the rivers of gore. "Take our picture!" they chirped in unison.
Pretty much sums it up.