Dinosaur


Directed by: Eric Leighton, Ralph Zondag
Written by:Walon Green, John Harrison, Robert Nelson Jacobs
Starring: Julianna Margulies, D.B. Sweeney, Joan Plowright, Ossie Davis, Max Casella, Alfre Woodard, Della Reese
Released: June 15, 2000
Grade: C+

Computer animation is now becoming more and more prominent on the big screen.  It was only five years ago when Toy Story took home an honorary Academy Award for been the first movie ever produced entirely by computer.  In its wake has followed successes such as Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life and Antz, all of which have attained critical acclaim and big box-office dollars.

Dinosaur (from Walt Disney, of course) again uses wonderful animation but cannot be compared to the above examples because of a poor screenplay.  Five screenwriters are credited and that’s a sure sign of script problems.

It is the story of a dinosaur named Aladar whose egg winds up under the care of a family of monkeys who raise and care for him.  When a meteor shower strikes the Earth wiping out most of the vegetation, Aladar and the monkeys set off to find a new place to live.  They meet a race of dinosaur who are on a journey to a secret breeding ground when fresh plants and water are in abundance.  It will take many days of travel across the desert to get there and the presences of vicious carnivores will make the journey a hazardous one.

Leading the pack of dinosaurs is Kron, a strict leader.  When Aladar arrives trying to help their cause, Kron finds his authority threatened and the success of the journey jeopardised.  Things are further complicated when Aladar falls for Kron’s sister, Neera.

Walt Disney is usually responsible for creating such wonderful stories for their films which capture the heart of both kids and adults (ala Toy Story 2).  Dinosaur is boring for the parents and boring for the kids who will be easily distracted.

Several of the dinosaurs look the same and given their obscure names, identifying one from the other is unnecessarily difficult.  James Newton Howard provides the film score for Dinosaur that overrides many patches of dialogue further frustrating the viewing experience.  Even more bizarre is the film’s length - 82 minutes, which includes both a lengthy opening sequence and closing credits.  You only just get the kids settled and have the story develop before it’s all over.

The voice list includes D. B. Sweeney, Julianna Margulies, Joan Plowright, Ossie Davis, Max Casella and Alfre Woodard.  Not big names by Hollywood standards but they do breathe a little life into these otherwise dull characters.

A high standard has been set with animation and it’s had a pretty good ride.  Dinosaur will fail to meet the successes of previous animations and a sharper story will need to be considered before we see Disney’s next entry (which will probably be due around this time next year).