Combine The Land Before Time and state-of-the-art computer graphics and you get Dinosaur, Disney's newest hatchling. A decent presentation and great visuals makes Dinosaur a fun time for all ages, and especially for the younger ones.
From beginning to end Dinosaur is loaded with visual effects, its most prominent feature. The way the dinosaurs move is incredibly fluid and the combination of real backgrounds and computerized foregrounds is seamless. Most of the time, it is unclear whether the backgrounds are filmed from real locations or digitally made.
As for the story, it isn't quite as great. It is about as original as any other Disney cartoon and bears a great resemblance to the classic The Land Before Time. The dialogue is better than what most critics make it out to be, although it is obviously aimed at the younger audience. The movie, surprisingly, is more serious than I expected, and probably more serious than it should be. It does have a good deal of jokes here and there but none too prominent. In fact, I wish I had laughed a lot more than I did at this "PG" rated film. The seriousness aspect hits home right in the beginning, and I mean that literally. The movie takes place right around the time of the comet strike, and this comet strikes for the most thrilling and entertaining scene of the movie. A mixture of red and black shades takes over the screen as the creatures fight to outrun a fiery fireball that rips over most of the Earth. A lot of the characters seen earlier are killed, though it is not shown on screen. Throughout the film, more animals die as they try to make their way across the barren earth to a sanctuary of forest (sound familiar?). What results is a compassionate film where, when an animal die, the audience feels for it, and a film that might be a little too scary for the unsuspecting toddler.
Thankfully, Dinosaur stayed away from the cheesy musical venue that so many of Disney's movies now boast about. They might not get as great of sales on the soundtrack but the more serious music works for this type of movie.
Dinosaur isn't that funny for a kids movie but it also has a darker side that will appeal to the older audience. On the other hand, the many children in the theater seemed to enjoy it immensely, and that's what this movie is all about, isn't it?
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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