Dinosaur

Movie Review by Neil Ryan

Starring: D B Sweeney, Julianna Margulies, Joan Plowright
Directors: Eric Leighton, Ralph Zondag

The latest high profile release from Disney’s animation stable delves further into the past for inspiration than any of their previous productions, but the technology used to recreate the Cretaceous era is amongst the most advanced ever used for the big screen and results in ambitious and sophisticated visual effects. However, in terms of incident, sentiment, and characterisation ‘Dinosaur’ is pure Disney: good, bad, and ugly are clearly defined; cute and kooky are present in equal measure and there is a blandly proficient extolling of family virtues and the power of positive thought, word, and deed. In fact, the only element missing from the formula is the aspirational theme song. After Sir Reg successfully warbled on about evolutionary geometry in ‘The Lion King’, one would have thought economic wisdom would ensure an anaemically trite power ballad be as much a part of the Disney package as the eventual ‘limited time only’ video release. (My own choice would have been a re-working of Shakespear’s Sister’s “You’re (pre-) History”. Or maybe some histrionic pop-lite diva screeching out “I Want to Feel You Inside of Me (Love Theme for a Carnivore)”).

The film’s hero is Aladar the Iguanadon (a mid-size herbivore). He is raised by a family of Lemurs: an unlikely (and chronologically impossible) scenario that is explained by way of an impressive, virtually dialogue-free, overture. Life for Aladar and the Lemurs is fun and carefree; that is until a meteorite shower destroys their island paradise home. Suddenly, Aladar and his adoptive family find themselves swept out to sea, eventually coming to rest in a strange new land which they apprehensively set out to explore. Their wariness proves to be intuitive when they encounter a pack of agile and ravenous Raptors anxious to partake of a spot of fresh Lemur. Fortunately Aladar and his ring-tailed companions stumble into the protective environs of a large migratory herd of fellow veggies ranging from a huge Brachiosaur to the relatively tiny Microceratops. This ragtag band is heading in search of a safe nesting ground where they can rest their weary claws; however, the route is exhausting and water is scarce. Even more worryingly they attract the attention of a pair of extremely nasty Carnatours and have to suffer the selfishly headstrong views of pack leader Tron and his gruff sidekick Bruton. Time for Aladar to step forward and save the day methinks.

Rest assured that the trusted moralistic Disney formula sees our likeable, if uninteresting, hero triumph over physical and metaphoric adversaries. Greed, envy, and nastiness are all sent on their black-caped twirly-moustached way, and righteousness prevails. As for the viewer: well, everyone’s a winner because children will love the film, adults will marvel at the technically proficient animation, and retailers will delight in the range of playground essentials at their disposal. In fact, there’s something for everyone… except lovers of pap music.

3 out of 6 stars

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