movie film review | chris tookey
 
     
     
 

Dinosaur

 (PG)
2000 - Disney Enterprises, Inc. - all rights reserved
     
  Dinosaur Review
Tookey's Rating
7 /10
 
Average Rating
6.20 /10
 
Starring
D.B. Sweeney, Julianna Margulies, Joan Plowright
Full Cast >
 

Directed by: Eric Leighton, Ralph Zondag
Written by: John Harrison and Robert Nelson Jacobs

 
 
 
Released: 2000
   
Genre: ADVENTURE
ANIMATION
FAMILY
   
Origin: US
   
Colour: C
   
Length: 84
 
 


 
The hero is, like Disney's Tarzan, an orphaned son brought up by another species, though here it's a dinosaur called Aladar in a family of cute, furry monkeys. The story recycles Bambi and The Lion King in the way it explores its male hero growing into maturity and leadership. And the last hour of the movie, with dinosaurs migrating to a promised land, is heavily indebted to The Land Before Time.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Disney's first venture into dinosaur animation has a script which might have been considered a trifle primitive in the Mesozoic period. The gags seem to have been not so much written as excavated. However, Dinosaur is a technological and, in some respects, an artistic marvel. The landscapes are beautiful. Some action sequences - especially the terrible effects of a meteorite hitting Earth - have a terrifying power.

This is not a cartoon but the latest advance in computer animation, building upon techniques pioneered in the Toy Story movies and A Bug's Life. The marriage of real scenery to computer animation is awe-inspiring. It makes the Jurassic Park movies look tentative and antiquated.

Dinosaur emerged from 70,000 CD-ROMs worth of information with 100 million individual files. It's rumoured to have cost $200 million, and it's a pity that the script seems to have been thrown together for a few cents.

Dinosaur makes little attempt to be zoologically correct, mingling prehistoric periods with gay abandon. The faces of the creatures may be impressively detailed but they are far too obviously human-inspired. The animation in the BBC's Walking With Dinosaurs was a good deal more convincing.

Not only is the dialogue lousy; the vocal performances lack personality. Only Joan Plowright, as a brachiosaurus who has known better days, stands out. The rest sound as though they're from a Fifties American sitcom. Aladar the hero is so monotonously pious that he becomes tedious and overblown, like Bambi pumped up on steroids.

Easily the most impressive parts of the film are the wordless opening, which is truly breathtaking, and later action sequences where no dialogue is necessary.

Another frustrating aspect is that, like many other modern Disney movies, Dinosaur insists on an anachronistic, politically correct view of the past. Apart from a few evil predators (none of them, incidentally, allowed to speak - only veggies are granted the power of articulation), the dinosaurs are portrayed as a rainbow coalition of species, one big, happy, multi-cultural family searching for the right father-figure.

The political message is similarly right-on. The hero's Clintonesque concern for stragglers as the dinosaurs migrate is contrasted with the leader's callous belief in the survival of the fittest. There isn't much doubt which way these film-makers will be voting in the forthcoming Presidential election.

One other warning: the savagery of some sequences means that it is probably not to be recommended to children under six.

Still, it deserves to be seen. Treat Dinosaur as a feast for the eyes rather than the heart or brain, and it's a memorable experience. They've been wise not to introduce the kind of extraneous songs that slowed down Tarzan. And at 84 minutes, it doesn't outstay its welcome.


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