Retro Review: Dinosaur

Can Disney’s most ambitious computer animated movie ever survive the onslaught of the summer?

Dinosaur tells the tale of an ambitious dinosaur named Aladar (voiced by D.B. Sweeney) who is plucked out of his mother’s nest and carried off to some unsuspecting primates. As he grows he accepts the frisky primates as his family.

Just as the yearly mating ritual begins, Aladar’s surroundings are engulfed in a cosmic event forcing Aladar to scoop up his adopted family and flee the safety of their island.

Returning to the real world proves a challenge for Aladar and his adopted primate family as they try so hard to fit in with a huge migrating herd.

Dinosaur’s amazing visuals and breath-taking scenery shots hold you breathless as you escape into a world completely fixated on the instinct of survival.

What seems to be the fault associated with Dinosaur is the story and emotion associated with its characters.

Sure when Disney creates animated characters our human emotions and actions are often placed into the hearts of the depicted characters but here it seems almost strange.

Here we have photo realistic surroundings and characters trying to be lifted from dinosaur history books.

A couple years back a breakthrough film called “The Land Before Time” embraced the idea of telling a dinosaur story using Disney-style animation. It was a marvelous accomplishment but here it’s very weird.

That very thing addresses some issues concerning what exactly is cartoon-violence and what is real to you and your child. Some scenes are vicious and profound as we watch Aladar’s constant struggle for survival in an untamed world.

Through these scenes we do have to wonder which particular audience was the film being aimed. I know for younger viewers the realism and the intensity in the art of survival may be too much to handle. It’s hard to judge which exact child may cringe while another might be excited. Dinosaur has pushed the envelope in regards to how real we really want to get with animation.

The plot elements that baffled me were during Aladar’s communication with the huge titanic Brachiosaurus, Baylene (voiced by Joan Plowright). In the introduction scene to Baylene, she is a giant and Aladar is worried about being stepped on. But as he gets to know her she seems to shrink and not be that large at all. And to top it all off Aladar is able to fit Baylene, himself and three other dinosaurs in a cave.

That must be some cave and how come the herd never could see a cave that huge? Sure I am being analytical on a family film but the film is trying for as much realism as necessary.

Dinosaur is more convincing and real than the “Land Before Time” but no where near as family or sincere as that film. I think it tries to be family at one moment and too realistic the next.

(3 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

One thought on “Retro Review: Dinosaur

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