’I’m a dinosaur hunter,” says the American Museum of Natural History’s Michael Novacek. That sounds a lot more camera ready than “paleontologist,” which may be why he’s a central figure in Bayley Silleck and David Clark’s Dinosaurs Alive!, the Imax film opening this Sunday. Novacek’s annual dino digs in the Gobi Desert, along with advancements in CGI technology and rediscovered footage of excavations from the twenties, make the film a gentle corrective to Steven Spielberg’s hugely entertaining but scientifically dicey 1993 blockbuster. That’s partly because recent discoveries supersede some of those nifty special effects. Remember the leathery velociraptors that chased the kids around the kitchen? “Now we know they were completely covered with feathers,” Silleck says. Besides, those fanged, child-eating creatures were really no bigger than a turkey. And some dinosaurs, recent findings also suggest, had their cuddly side. “Nurturing behavior was typical of many,” Silleck says, noting a recent dig that found a group of dino skeletons atop nests of eggs, where they stayed even as an avalanche buried them. So are we to believe that the new film, on a 100-foot screen, is warm and fuzzy? “Dinosaurs are big and scary. But in a good way, because they can’t eat you up anymore.”
Opens 5/19 and plays daily every hour on the half-hour from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; American Museum of Natural History, 79th Street and Central Park West (212-769-5200 or amnh.org); $21 grown-ups, $16 seniors and students, $12 kids 2 to 12, price includes the film and admission to the museum.