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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.66%
Worth A Look: 24.05%
Pretty Bad: 2.53%
Total Crap: 7.59%

7 reviews, 37 user ratings

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by Greg Muskewitz

"The animation is quite the eye catcher."
3 stars

I would be lying if I said you’ve never seen anything like Dinosaur before --because chances are, you did. Only not on the scale that this is. With a combination of live action backdrops, and everything else being fully animated, it cultivated an awesome visual style that is obviously a trademark of Disney.

A typical example of life’s sudden vicissitudes has an iguanadon’s egg stolen from the mother’s nest, and through carrier, water, and air delivery, the egg ends up on an island inhabited by monkey-like lemurs (the writers overtly admit taking liberties with the existence of lemurs at the time). The baby dino is adopted by a family of those lemurs and grows over a good amount of time into a “big” teenager. Don’t let the “iguana” fool you, this dinosaur named Aladar is nothing to sneeze about. Life seems good for a long while as the story skims along, that is, until one night after the annual lemur mating festival, a meteor shower hits nearby and offsets a string of explosions and tidal waves.

The “family” is tossed from their destroyed island and must swim to another in order to survive. The land they have descended to is, or moreover, was populated previously by dinosaurs, but the lusterless land has become dry and fruitless and the surviving herd of dinos must be led by a villainous leader to find a livable and rejuvenating piece of land that has only been rumored to exist.

The movie I was alluding to earlier was Universal Picture’s 1988 animated movie, The Land Before Time. That’s exactly where Dinosaur’s plot line has been lifted from, adroitly from several of Time’s direct-to-video sequels (5 of those total) as well. Dinosaur was originally written in 1984 by Walon Green (writer of last year’s hybridized western The Hi-Lo Country). The screenplay floated around for quite a while, eventually landing with Disney, but being held off on for hope of new technology (that’s where the computer animation comes in). Over these past 16 years, the script has been re-written by John Harrison (Tales from the Darkside) and Robert Nelson Jacobs (Out to Sea). The examples of their previous work (a few others worth no mention by Jacobs, none by Harrison) goes to attest to the fact that there is nothing very special, nor new about the story.

None the less, the computer animation was glorious. We (or should I say they) have definitely developed a wonderful asset for movies, as was the case for the Toy Story movies. But with Dinosaur, you get the sense that it’s serving as more of a showcase of design than for cinematics. Toy Story seemed harmless enough, and the sequel, a guaranteed cash in, but felt like more of a large endorsement for all of the borrowed toys. Well, Dinosaur was like a travel brochure for CGI.

The movie was directed by Ralph Zondag and Eric Leighton (a former San Diegan), who claim full control over every single frame of film because it’s animation. But if that’s so, why are animated movies always directed by two people? It isn’t as if these guys are sitting around in director’s chairs working with on camera actors. They’re working with voice recordings and drawings. It sounds like a one man job to me. But hey, maybe it’s a very difficult job, I dunno, I could be completely wrong.

Disney has said that their marketing target for Dinosaur is seven and up, but I’ve never quite understood how they could discern the marketing demographics between a six and seven year-old. But granted, there are many intense scenes that may be too much for younger audiences, so discretion is advised. But if only Disney could have put five percent of the effort they put into publicizing The Straight Story as they did Dinosaur, they might have had a huge hit on their greedy hands. I’m still bitter.

In addition, there was a good round up of distinguishable voice talents including Alfre Woodard, D.B. Sweeney, Ossie Davis, Max Cessella, Samuel E. Wright, Juliana Margulies, Della Reese, Peter Siragusa, and Joan Plowright.

“Stand together,” a line that does not go unheard (and yet is only an echo in this movie) seems to be nothing more than the usual piece of Disney criteria. Which Disney movie will it be in next?

Final Verdict: B-.

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originally posted: 05/27/00 01:19:56
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User Comments

3/23/12 Quigley Painfully unfunny and a very tired story. The visuals and animation are incredible, though. 3 stars
8/30/09 CTT Too close to "The Land Before Time," but still good stuff 4 stars
8/29/08 Shaun Wallner My daughter loves this movie! 5 stars
8/10/06 Dragon The Artist Yet another mushfest, moral laced Disney flick,but Iliked it as a child. 3 stars
7/12/06 Matthew Sutton Hey Joe you suck, Dinosaur is the greatest 5 stars
6/28/06 joe koski BOO you stink!!! 1 stars
11/11/05 Mark Radburn I love Disney Dinosaur better than Finding Nemo. 5 stars
8/17/05 ES Good, the whole 'Dinosaurs as humanitarians' thing was a stretch but the kids love it 4 stars
7/05/05 Ben Farmillo Extremely Well-made movie. A masterpiece 5 stars
2/27/05 Dr. Lecter rescued by its wondrous JNH music 3 stars
1/09/05 Luke Blackadder Dinosaur is more, more more fun than Boring Ice Age 5 stars
11/27/04 Steven Brady Totally Awesome one of Disney's Greatest 5 stars
11/01/04 Mark This is The World's Greatest Disney Movie ever 5 stars
10/25/04 DM Boring, overwrought and preachy - some good bits, though 2 stars
4/25/04 Alex A normal film 3 stars
2/03/03 Turtle Don't gimme that crap about the CGI. See it for what it is: A big pile of dino droppings. 1 stars
1/01/02 Andrew Carden Boring and Badly Worked Cartoon. 1 stars
10/16/01 Connoisseur pathetically boring and uninvolving! perhaps the flattest characters ever in a movie! 1 stars
4/09/01 Gary Looks real, but I have to agree that Disney is dead. Very boring. 3 stars
2/08/01 Mario Rodgers Anybody who grades this higher than Land Before Time needs his brain retooled. 3 stars
12/28/00 Turtle Disney is dead. 1 stars
9/09/00 Jed Over-simplistic storyline is a tiny complaint. A great movie for this year. 5 stars
7/05/00 Mic "JP" meets "TLK" meets "Tarzan". Ordinary, formulaic plot, but awesome animation! 3 stars
6/25/00 Purple Monster "Jurassic Park" meets "The Lion King" !!!! 3 stars
6/05/00 Jed So it has a simple story. SO WHAT! THIS MOVIE IS GREAT! 5 stars
5/27/00 PhilmPhreak See it for the animation - NOT the story! 4 stars
5/26/00 Maclay01 They shouldn't have stared talking - Walt would've done it that way 3 stars
5/24/00 grunter "Land Before Time" done on an eMac - at least they didn't sing this time 3 stars
5/23/00 ladislau masterpiece! dreamworks should hide for a while... 5 stars
5/22/00 k.tomkowski Dumb plot, too naive and predictable even for kids! A wasted chance. 4 stars
5/22/00 The Bomb 69 visuals were the best ever, writing was simplistic 4 stars
5/21/00 Cinesuerte Land Before Time 2000 if only there was a version with no talking that would be a HIT 4 stars
5/21/00 Captain Highcrime I hear in the sequel, the dinosaurs on going to appear on "Millioniare." 4 stars
5/21/00 Blackbird Great CG, but couldn't balance realism with family fare. Gave me mixed feelings 3 stars
5/19/00 John The best movie ever 1 stars
5/17/00 The Rock Mesa thinks the Love Monkey was Jar-Jar Binks II 2 stars
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  19-May-2000 (PG)


  15-Jun-2000 (PG)

Directed by
  Eric Leighton
  Ralph Zondag

Written by

  D.B. Sweeney
  Kiefer Sutherland
  Joan Plowright
  Alfre Woodard
  Samuel E. Wright
  Juliana Maguiles

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