Dinosaur (2000)

Dinosaur was apparently the most expensive film of the year 2000. It is Disney’s long-awaited entry to the dinosaur genre, one that never fails to fascinate children and the youth inside all of us. Disney waited while other animated dino tales came and went, and because they waited so long they were able to make a product with very clearly superior animation.

Dinosaur is mostly a showcase of this CGI technology. The settings of the film are real-life places, and the dinosaurs animated into these sets look just as real. The first sequence of the film is breath-taking. It follows a fantastic journey of a single dinosaur egg as it miraculously avoids destruction to wind up in a herd of lemurs. The egg’s dazzling trip was shown in theaters before the movie came out, and I remember seeing it and being equally amazed.

It’s unfortunate that this majestic opening leads into a very generic movie. When the egg containing our protagonist Aladar ends up with the lemurs, the primates begin to talk. This moment shattered the idea of a fantastical, realistic look at a prehistoric world that I had expected out of this film, and began instead what would evolve into the most recycled and uninspired story I’ve ever seen in an animated film.

Everything about the film’s story is stale. Aladar and his lemur surrogate family survive a meteor shower and join a herd of dinosaurs making their way to a promised land. As if that wasn’t a direct thievery from the Land Before Time, the characters are likewise unengaging. Aladar is so simplistically moral that he bores to tears. The antagonistic leader of the pack is a bad guy because he wants to survive and keep pushing the dinosaurs to safety. He has a sister who gets in the middle of the clash in ideologies. The carnivorous dinosaurs who threaten to eat them never speak and only growl and bite. All of this has been done before ad nauseam. Even the dangers that the dinosaurs encounter as they make their arduous trek are repetitive and wear thin by the end of the film. If forced to describe the film in one word, it would have to be “trite”.

That’s basically all there is to say about this film. It looks amazing; its plot is atrociously formulaic. I believe it would have worked much better as a film without speaking animals, just a well-animated look into a world that is both fascinating and inconceivable. Instead, the film has bland characters speaking unoriginal dialogue to move themselves through a generic plot. This is only worth watching if you have the spirit of a child, want to see fantastic animation without regards to content, or are just really really into dinosaurs.

Final rating: 5/10

–James A. Janisse

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