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Directed by Ralph Zondag and Eric Leighton
Running Time: 1:30
Rated PG for intense images.

I am a mark for Disney films. If it's Disney, and it's animated, I'm going to go see it, and most of the time, I'll love it. Then comes Dinosaur. And it's Disney, and it's animated, and I went to go see it, but I didn't love it. From a technical standpoint, it was amazing. From a movie standpoint, it was just ok.

Apparently the producers of Dinosaur were more interested in seeing what they could do with computer generated animation than making a movie people might actually enjoy. I mean, seeing what they could do with dinosaurs and other assorted creatures was cool for the first few minutes, but after that you look for a story that keeps you interested in what's happening on screen. The best example of that is of course Toy Story. Seeing these toys that we all used to play with when we were kids, come to life was incredible. But what made that movie great was the fact that there was a good story line, and characters that we cared about. In Dinosaur, I didn't care for any of the characters, and the story line seemed lifted from the Land Before Time series of films. Dinosaur follows a dinosaur named Aladar who is raised by some monkeys. When the meteors (or asteroids) that eventually end dinosaur life on Earth start to fall, all the dinosaurs must head to the nesting ground, where this is enough water and plant life for everyone. Along the way Aladar and his monkeys meet these other dinosaurs, who are lead by Kron. Kron and Aladar butt heads over how fast and how the group should be run. As well the group is being chased by other dinosaurs looking to kill them for food. In the end of course, Aladar is right and Kron isn't, and Aladar falls in love with Kron's sister. And they all live happily ever after. Other than the fact that their species will relatively soon be wiped off the planet.

Like I said before, the detail the animators put into creating these dinosaurs are amazing. And I can appreciate the amount of work it took to make these creatures look so life like. But I wish they had created a story with characters we could connect with, and a story that was little more than a search for water. I never felt like I could care about any of the dinosaurs or the other creatures. Maybe it's because dinosaurs by nature aren't cute. Who doesn't love a cute creature? The entire movie had a cold feel to it. Lots of blues and greens, lots of dark skies and brooding characters. Only when everyone finally reaches the nesting ground does the movie start to look enjoyable. And by then it's over. As an aside, can I tell you how much I love Julianna Margulies? I've always loved her on ER (and am rightfully sad that she decided to leave the show) but even her voice is great. I'm ready to put her on my list of great animation voices along side of Michael J. Fox, Nathan Lane, and Robin Williams. Maybe that's another problem with my dislike of the characters, none of the voices was loveable enough (other than Julianna's).

I suppose I'm being too hard on the movie. Creating something like this is an enormous task, and you have to cut corners somewhere. Put the money and effort into the animation, and let the story just happen. But in the end if you want people to go see your movie, there has to be something other than fancy imagery to keep the viewer involved. The initial amazement at the animation faded very quickly, and I found myself wondering when the movie was going to be over. There was just nothing else there to capture me. Maybe I went in expecting this to be like other Disney films. Full of loveable characters, some cool songs, and a happy look and feel to the movie. But it had none of that. This was just an opportunity for Disney to test out their computer animation abilities. So overall Dinosaur was a technological masterpiece, but as a movie it was just so-so.

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Books -

Disney's Dinosaur! The Essential Guide

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$27.99 2 DVD Special Edition set

Music -

Dinosaur Soundtrack

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Text Version

reviewed 05/21/00

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