Dinosaur 13

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dinosaur 13
Dinosaur 13 poster.jpg
Sundance Film poster
Directed byTodd Douglas Miller
Produced byTodd Douglas Miller
CinematographyThomas Petersen
Edited byTodd Douglas Miller
Music byMatt Morton
Statement Pictures
Distributed byCNN Films
Release date
  • January 16, 2014 (2014-01-16) (Sundance)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States

Dinosaur 13 is a 2014 American documentary film directed and produced by Todd Douglas Miller.[1] The film premiered in competition category of U.S. Documentary Competition program at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 16, 2014.[2][3]

After its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, CNN Films and Lionsgate acquired distribution rights of the film, leading to broadcast on CNN, theatrical release, and DVD packaging.[4][5] In 2015 Dinosaur 13 won the Emmy for Outstanding Science and Technology Programming at the 36th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards.[6]


The film depicts events that began in 1990, when American paleontologist Sue Hendrickson working with Pete Larson and his Black Hills Institute of Geological Research team discovered the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found (nicknamed "Sue") while digging in the badlands near Faith, South Dakota. The skeleton was seized from the institute by the federal government, followed by a 10-year-long battle with the FBI, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Maurice Williams, the landowner on whose property the bones were discovered. Pete Larson also spent 18 months in prison, on unrelated charges of international money laundering and trading fossils on the black market.[7][8]


The film received positive response from critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 73% based on reviews from 49 critics, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The site's critics consensus states: "It's undeniably slanted and doesn't cover as much of the story as it should, but Dinosaur 13 makes for gripping documentary viewing, flaws and all".[9] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 66 out of a 100 based on 27 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[10]

Dennis Harvey, in his review for Variety, called the documentary "engrossing".[11] Duane Byrge of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film positive review and said that it involves a "story of scientific discovery and petty politics".[12] Eric Kohn from Indiewire in his review said that "A subset of the recent scientific-documentary-as-thriller tradition epitomized by The Cove and Blackfish, Todd Douglas Miller's Dinosaur 13 is both awe-inspiring and tragic".[13]

Donald Clarke of The Irish Times had praised the ending of Dinosaur 13 calling it "bittersweet" and "genuinely unfair", adding plainly and simply "Do not miss [it]".[14]

Tom Huddleston of Time Out wrote "Using home-video footage and talking-head interviews, [the film] dramatically depicts the thrill of archaeological discovery".[15]

According to Andrew O'Hehir of Salon.com Dinosaur 13 has the "elements of legal thriller, political drama, academic throwdown and scientific geek-out [all-in-one].[16]

Kim Newman of the Empire also praised the film, saying that "[Similar to] The Cover and Man on Wire, this doc[umentary] comes clad in the garb of a thriller. And a heck of a good one at that".[17]

Even though the film was praised by critics, Rob Staeger of The Village Voice was of a different opinion. His verdict was that "Unfortunately, Dinosaur 13 never manages to display the story's many complex parts in a way that enables viewers to grasp the whole beast".[18]

After the film aired, The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, a society of professional paleontologists that depend largely on government grants for research, issued a statement of full support for legally protecting fossils on public land and criticized Dinosaur 13 for implying that government ownership of fossil specimens impedes paleontological science.[19]

Following its release on Blu-ray, the film was reviewed by Brian Orndorf of Blu-ray.com, who said that "If The Cove and Blackfish taught us anything, it's that documentaries don't necessarily require facts and figures to support a subject matter".[20]


  1. ^ "2014 Sundance Docs in Focus: DINOSAUR 13". December 27, 2013. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  2. ^ Ford, Rebecca (January 9, 2014). "Sundance Preview: 'Dinosaur 13' Poster Digs Up a T. rex (Exclusive Image)". Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  3. ^ "Sundance 2014: U.S. Documentary Competition". IndieWire. January 10, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  4. ^ Miller, Daniel (January 17, 2014). "Sundance 2014: 'Dinosaur 13' doc acquired by Lionsgate, CNN Films". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  5. ^ Willmore, Alison (January 17, 2014). "CNN Films and Lionsgate Acquire T-Rex Documentary 'Dinosaur 13' Out of Sundance". IndieWire. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  6. ^ "CNN Films and Dinosaur 13 Win News & Documentary Emmy Award". CNN. September 29, 2015. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  7. ^ Browne, Malcolm W. (February 22, 1996). "Fossil Dealer, Target of Federal Prosecutors, Begins Jail Term". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  8. ^ Miller, Daniel (January 18, 2014). "Sundance 2014: The making of 'Dinosaur 13' [Video]". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  9. ^ "Dinosaur 13 (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  10. ^ "Dinosaur 13 (2014)". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 30, 2021.
  11. ^ Harvey, Dennis (January 17, 2014). "Sundance Film Review: 'Dinosaur 13'". Variety.
  12. ^ "Dinosaur 13: Sundance Review". The Hollywood Reporter. January 17, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  13. ^ Kohn, Eric (January 17, 2014). "Sundance Review: 'Dinosaur 13' Salutes the World's Greatest T-Rex Skeleton and Mourns the Fate of Its Discoverers". IndieWire. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  14. ^ Clarke, Donald (August 15, 2014). "Dinosaur 13 review: Kafka and a dinosaur named Sue". The Irish Times. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  15. ^ Huddleston, Tom (August 13, 2014). "Dinosaur 13". Time Out.
  16. ^ O'Hehir, Andrew (August 13, 2014). "'Dinosaur 13': Why Fox News would have had a field day with T.rex". Salon.com. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  17. ^ Newman, Kim (August 7, 2014). "Dinosaur 13 Review". Empire.
  18. ^ Staeger, Rob (August 13, 2014). "Dinosaur 13 Digs Up the Controversy around 'Sue'". The Village Voice. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  19. ^ "Dinosaur 13 doesn't unearth whole truth about paleontology and fossil protection on US public lands". Phys.org. Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. December 10, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  20. ^ Orndorf, Brian (August 14, 2014). "Dinosaur 13 Review". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved July 31, 2021.


External links[edit]