Week 39: Dinosaur

First Theatrical Release: May 19, 2000

First Home Viewing Release: January 30, 2001

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Where I Found It: My library’s DVD collection.

Bechdel Test Score: Passed. Female characters include Plio, Suri, Neera, Baylene, and Eema. Baylene and Eema talk to one another about the hardship of the journey to the Nesting Grounds.

So, this movie is technically a DNF because the DVD copy I checked out from the library skipped and froze so bad in the middle that I had to jump ahead a few scenes — and then, lo and behold, the epic music was playing and the dinos were emerging into the Nesting Grounds. Um, yay!

nesting grounds

Normally, I would try to find a way to see those damaged scenes as I did with The Sword in the Stone, wherein I had to get caught up on a middle section via YouTube. But Dinosaur bored me SO MUCH that I just was not motivated to find the missing clips online or to take my chances requesting another copy from the library in hopes that it would be less scratched up. Considering that the first half, which DID play, still had me Googling roller coaster pics on my phone, it just didn’t seem like a good investment of my time (unless I wanted to do some more pointless Googling.)

I saw this movie in a Memphis theater in 2000 with a Disney pen pal I was meeting for the first time. I remember being mildly disappointed in the movie at the time, but, again, was hoping for better results on my rewatch. Didn’t happen. In fact, I pretty much spent the whole time analyzing WHY this movie was so boring, because DINOSAURS ARE COOL. Here is what I came up with.

  1. watching eggThe animators spend way too much time showing off. The visuals in this movie really are stunning at times, and it’s neat that Disney combined CGI-animated characters with real, gorgeous landscapes. But the 10-minute (feels like it, not sure of actual time) montage of Aladar’s egg floating down the river and confusing various dinos pretty much sets up that this whole movie is gonna feel longer than it needs to be.
  2. I just couldn’t buy into Aladar’s character. The moment Aladar opened his mouth, it was pretty much over for me. What is that high school golden boy voice doing inside a DINOSAUR? I just kept thinking Captain of the Baseball Team, and since I wasn’t really into sports OR high school, Aladar’s voice pretty much traumatized me. He’s clearly a good guy, standing up to an abusive herd leader and looking out for the oldies, but his voice made me feel like maybe he was actually a bit of an entitled snob underneath.
  3. Aladar(baby)Other dino movies have already covered the same ground. The journey to the Nesting Grounds while avoiding the carnivorous dinos is pretty similar to the plotline of The Land Before Time, except TLBT has super cute baby dinos in the lead. We’ve seen scary SFX dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, not to mention various educational films, museum exhibits, etc. It seems to think the addition of Aladar being raised by a bunch of monkeys might differentiate it, but there was really no reason that Aladar’s being raised apart from his kind was integral to the plot. And of course, foundling raised by another species with all the attendant tender moments and laughs has been done before, most recently in Tarzan.
  4. aladar and oldieIt’s pretty much a continuous loop of the same things happening again and again. This is why I didn’t feel all that choked up about missing a few scenes in the middle, since the whole journey to the Nesting Grounds seems to play out like this: Dinosaurs get tired; Aladar encourages them; Slavedriver herd leader Kron is a total dick to everyone, especially the elderly, slower dinos; Aladar stands up to Kron; Kron bosses around Aladar’s love interest, Neera (who is also Kron’s sis although he acts more like an abusive boyfriend); carnivorous dinos attack; it rains; repeat indefinitely.
  5. Generic dino with generic dino girlfriend.

    Generic dino with generic dino girlfriend.

    The characters are so generic. There’s nothing that really gives any of these characters much personality beyond the stock roles they play. Aladar’s the typical good guy, his adopted mother is the typical good mother, his adopted grandfather is the typical yuk-it-up old dude, Kron is the typical bully top-dog, etc. and etc. The characters that seem the most unique are elderly dinosaurs Baylene and Eema, probably because a) we hardly ever see elderly characters outside the role of ineffectual and/or antagonistic parents; and b) the talented voice acting.

Overall, the movie just feels like it tries too hard. Tries too hard to be touching with all the family moments. Tries too hard to be epic with its ripped-from-The Lion King background music. Tries too hard to impart good lessons about watching out for the weak and standing up against injustice. Can’t object to the movie’s message, if kids can stay awake long enough to absorb it.


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