Titanoboa: Monster Snake (2012)

I know that looking at the title you would assume that this was another of those cheesy Sci-Fi movies sporting a CGI snake.  But this isn’t one of those kinds of movies.  This time around I’m reviewing an actual documentary on a prehistoric snake!  You guys didn’t think that I was all monster movies and no substance did you?

The documentary follows the discovery of a snake vertebra in Columbia.  From this one bone scientists realized that they had discovered the history of an ecosystem that had never been seen before.  It was the earliest example of a rain forest that had been found.  It was populated with all sorts of huge creatures including crocodiles and a turtle with a shell that was 10 ft. wide.  But the apex predator in this eco system was a giant snake that they named Titanoboa. 

The most interesting part of this documentary is watching how the scientists put together the creature from some bones.  It was amazing how by looking at the bone and comparing it to those of modern snakes they were able to determine that it was a constrictor and then identify the snakes of today that it was most closely related to.  Through the study of living snakes like the anaconda they were able to speculate how the ancient snake hunted, mated, and defended itself.  This kind of stuff is so interesting to me and I have to say that I did “nerd” out on it a bit.  To think that creatures this large and dangerous actually lived in the past is just amazing. 

The way that they put the documentary together was great.  As much as I dig the science if it was nothing more then ninety minutes of talking heads it would be boring.  So what they have done is cut in animation of what the snake would have looked like and some scenes of it hunting.  Also they have footage of the scientists working with experts to hunt down and study anacondas.  I thought this was cool because seeing how powerful the living snakes were and how much smaller they are puts the Titanoboa into perspective.  This would not be a creature that you would want to ever run into.  Finally as the story unfolds and they discover more and more about the snake they have an artist working on a life sized recreation.  This of course is revealed at the very end and again works well to show exactly how big of an animal that it was.

I love stuff like this.  I’m not a science guy but when it comes to extinct animals it fascinates me.  To see what nature can come up with is incredible.  I recommend that everyone take a break from the slashers, creature features, and revenge flicks long enough to watch Titanoboa: Monster Snake.

3 out of 4

reviewed by John Shatzer

© Copyright 2012 John Shatzer