Anonymous Rex (movie)
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- This is about the TV-movie Anonymous Rex. For the novel series, see Anonymous Rex (novel).
Anonymous Rex is a 2004 Sci Fi original movie based on the novel Casual Rex by Eric Garcia. The premise of the film is that dinosaurs did not die off, but faked their extinction and now live among humans in disguise. In the past they wore latex suits, but they now use holographic disguises to mask their appearance and coexist with humans without persecution.
The film earned lukewarm reviews. Those who enjoyed it were impressed by the unique concept and film-noir style. At the same time the film was panned for its low-budget special effects and predictable, unexciting story. Fans of the novels (who were expecting a witty, quirky adventure) have called it stiff and humorless. A good concept lost in weak execution (see the IMDB entry).
- Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
When Ernie’s ex-girlfriend’s brother is found dead, the incident is dismissed as suicide. But she doesn’t believe her brother would kill himself and asks Ernie to check it out (“for free,” Vincent observes). They investigate and Vincent notices the scent of another dinosaur on the windowsill. It was not a suicide.
At the funeral Vincent talks to a man dressed in a strange suit who belongs to the cult that the deceased had joined a while ago, “The Voice of Progress.” He pretends to be interested in their ideals and gets himself and Ernie invited to a gathering. That’s when Vincent catches a familiar scent nearby--the scent that was present in the victim’s bedroom.
Vincent and Ernie go to the cult meeting and hear what the Voice of Progress stands for: they want to give its members their saurian identities back. Dinosaurs are living a lie. They pretend to be something they’re not all their lives by wearing their disguises and it’s stolen their identity, forced them to see themselves as monsters and the humans as normal. This affects Vincent a great deal. Ernie is untouched.
As their investigation continues, Vincent and Ernie come to realize what one man in the cult is planning. He is plotting a revolution. Turning cult members into feral dinosaurs and releasing them on the humans. This will force both sides to face each other, and allow dinosaurs to come out of hiding at last. He knows the dinosaurs will win their freedom to live as they are, and not in the lie. Vincent is not sure what side he’s on.
Notable differences between the book and the movie
The movie preserves the basic concept of Casual Rex instead of the sequence of events. It is a very loose adaption. Most if not all of the changes are direct results of the budget limitations for a made-for-TV movie. Because nearly every scene in the novel features dinosaurs, much of the story itself had to change to work inside this limit.
- Dinosaurs revere the element of chance. The Council even makes decisions based on chance. This is not in the book.
- In the books, dinosaurs still wear latex disguises. They put on and take off their disguises frequently, sometimes they unexpectedly come undone, and characters even switch disguises. The film shows very few dinosaurs deactivating their holographic disguises, and even then only the head or hands are briefly shown.
- Ernie does not have a daughter in the books, he is not a triceratops and he is also divorced from his wife, not broke up with his girlfriend.
- The book features numerous scenes of dinosaurs talking to each other without their disguises on. None of this was included in the film. Characters only speak to each other in human form.
- Vincent as a child is briefly seen in a flashback (the only time a full-body, undisguised dinosaur is shown). This flashback does not happen in the book, but it is intended to show emotions that had been narrated.
- The book has Vincent and Ernie traveling to the cult’s private island. The movie stays in Los Angeles.
- The book describes scenes of training exercises the cult uses to teach its members how to function like dinosaurs again. All of it intended to give them a chance to be dinosaurs without the confines of living inside a human skin (though the underlying intent is sinister). This is not shown in the film, although it is implied.
- Years of training and conditioning revert cult members to a feral state in the book. In the film, the revolutionists use a banned herb. The exercises have nothing to do with it.
- In the book, Vincent is not tempted to go along with the revolution. The film attempts to show indecision in him, and even implies that every dinosaur has this same desire to revolt against the humans, break out of their disguises and take over. The books do not imply this at all. The dinosaurs resent the cover-up but they also accept it as the best way to live.