By Owen Gleiberman
Updated November 13, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

Size may not have mattered this much since the dawn of CinemaScope. In the latest 3-D IMAX spectacular, even the tiniest, birdlike dinosaurs rear up into your face with scary, thrusting velocity, their beaks and claws waving like pincers; a lone pterodactyl, zooming out of the sky, seems to be dive-bombing the audience. Essentially a truncated recapitulation of some of the showier effects from the Jurassic Park films, this genial 45-minute techno-stunt could have used more dinosaurs and less of the grade-school-science-film plot. Ally (Liz Stauber), an aspiring paleontologist obsessed with her theory (based on seeing Godzilla?) that the Tyrannosaurus laid eggs, hallucinates herself out of the gray marble halls of a natural history museum and into a mossy, foggy prehistoric forest, where she enjoys close encounters with some of nature’s original megabeasts. A little of the heroine’s gee-whiz attitude goes a long way, but when she finally comes face to giant face with mama T. Rex (who, wouldn’t you know it, does lay eggs), T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous makes you feel as if that scaly, writhing, saber-toothed anvil of a head is every bit as close to you as your bucket of popcorn. B

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