Sunday, April 1, 2012

Smithsonian Channel's TITANOBOA: MONSTER SNAKE arrives on DVD & Blu-ray

Get ready for the big one -- all you kids and grand-kids who are into dinos, crocs, snakes and other reptiles, present and past -- because TITANOBOA is coming. Shown first on the Smithsonian Channel and making its Blu-ray and DVD debut this week, the documentary is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. Thanks to today's super repertoire of special effects, the filmmakers create a visually stunning and quite believable reproduction of the giant water-and-sort-of-land snake (this guy was evidently way too big to move gracefully or easily on land) who lived 60 million years ago. The movie provides enough good scientific information to keep adults watching, while cleverly (and repeatedly) showing kids that special giant-animals-duke-it-out footage (below) that they never seem to tire of watching.

We critics, however, may tire of being told for the umpteenth time during the 92-minute movie what an important discovery this was, or listening to a narrator whose every sentence, no matter how mundane the verbiage, sounds fraught with intense expectation. But this is now standard documentary procedure, so get used to it and enjoy what you can.

And Titanoboa -- the snake and its movie -- is interesting, as it takes us from a huge coal-mining operation in Colombia where the first snake fossil vertebrae was discovered (bigger than anything ever seen up to now) to the laboratories and research facilities where scientists pour over each new "find."

We go on location to the wilds of the Amazon and elsewhere, meeting the two snakes that currently hold the title of world's largest: the Burmese Python and the Anaconda. Watching trained biologists getting whipped and/or bitten bloody by these creatures should give snake-o-phobes pause and tingle the spines of the younger set.

The arc of the documentary follows that team of researchers, scientists and diggers looking for ever more fossils from this giant snake, especially its head. (Snake heads, it seems, are unusually delicate and so rarely survive in fossilized form.) Once enough of these fossils are found, a replica of the snake can be created. When it is (see below), it's a doozy.

Titanoboa, released through Inception Media Group, hits the streets this Tuesday, April 3, on DVD and Blu-ray. Suggested retail for the DVD is $14.98; the Blu-ray sells for $19.98. Neither Netflix nor Blockbuster appears to stock the title, and I've not found it on streaming venues. For now, it looks like a purchase is the only way to catch it -- other than via re-runs on the Smithsonian Channel....

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