Nothing but a “Flock of Dodos”

Flock of Dodos Movie Poster

FILMMAKER: Randy Olson
REVIEWER: Katy B. Jones

I was so looking forward to watching this movie, it’s been on my Netflix list for weeks. It’s got stuff I like – sciency goodness, humor, and friend recommendation. The story is about the fight between evolutionists and those nutty folks who want to teach Intelligent Design in science class.

Unfortunately, it had three major “ugh” factors:

1. Ugh for being our second film in as many weeks with a first person narrator. I just generally dislike first person narrators, they’re usually annoying. I didn’t care about his mother, I didn’t care about his background as a scientist, I didn’t care about his friendship with his crew. Get yourself out of the way and tell the story.

2. Ugh, for really poorly directed camerawork. It was shot like a student film – with weird two shots because you just HAD to frame the filmmaker in the shot during an interview, and poor planning during action scenes. If a character so much as wiggled during a sequence, boy, the whole thing was a mess.

3. Ugh, for cleverness at the expense of storytelling. Funny animated dodos aside, there just wasn’t a carefully constructed story. It was just loosely constructed thing with a filmmaker a little too in love with being funny without construction. Really used that poker game gag too much and should have edited more tightly. It was a bit student-filmy.

It was kooky, yes, and clever, yes, but I really wanted to just reconstruct everything. You could have made one more clearly segment on the school boards and one on the supervillan Discovery Institute, and one on evolutionary scientists responding to this message. Instead it was like a film of run on sentences.

He did his journalistic homework in getting major players on both sides of the issue to speak to him. And he used some serious open-mindedness in speaking with both sides. I learned things I didn’t know about both sides and definitely got a clearer picture of what the ID folks are pushing.

I did like his little bit with the scientists explaining why Intelligent Design isn’t always intelligent (an Intelligent Designer would design a rabbit that has to eat its own poo? animals that have to regurgitate their food?) but I kind of felt it kind of muddied the real point. Intelligent Design simply isn’t a science so it doesn’t belong in a science classroom.  And it should have been clearer in this film.

So…good information, but I was left wanting to remake this film.

Two out of five cheers.


Related information:

An interesting essay on “Fear of Evolution” by NPR’s Stuart Kaufman

Panda’s Thumb gives a more issue-driven review of “Flock of Dodos”

Tribecca liked the film better than I did. reviews seem mostly positive.

Inkyling Magazine runs Darwin Fish contest.


3 Replies to “Nothing but a “Flock of Dodos””

  1. You know, it’s funny. I would still recommend watching it, if for no other reason than it seems to be the only film really covering both sides of the issue. And it is an entertaining, easily approachable watch, which was the filmmaker’s goal. I suppose I should have credited a bit more for having achieved his goal.

    Its the style and story construction that just weren’t my cup of tea when I’m looking at a documentary film. It had a student-film-trying-to-find-my-aesthetic-voice kind of feel. And it got muddy. I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts if you do decide to watch.


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