Miller isn't so interested in the Rex herself - still one of the great palaeontological finds - but its focus on characters and people actually elevates it above an episode of Horizon that might feel less personable. For the most part, Dinosaur 13 is highly absorbing - some of the decisions that come against Larson are truly shocking - but it does lack in places as a piece of documentary journalism. It never uncovers why 36 members of the national guard took the specimen away when that wouldn't have been the case if human bodies were hanging in the museum instead. Nor does the film address the point about whether the South Dakota government was itself at fault for raising the issue of Sue's provenance.
Was it a government conspiracy (Sue later sold at auction for millions) or just massive incompetence? That said, the film gamely attempts to show some of the opposing viewpoints, including the head of the prosecution against Larson's company, and it's unfortunate that suggests more time should be spent explaining why our sympathies should lie with Larson. A shifty district court judge, who sends down a shock sentence for Larson, seems the most obvious personality not given his chance to speak. Still, Dinosaur 13 is slickly edited, creatively directed - with some intriguing use of dramatised scenes among archive footage - and never boring to watch.
This review was originally published on 25 April 2014 as part of our Sundance London coverage. For more info about Dinosaur 13, visit dogwoof.com.