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Dinosaur

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Dinosaur

Starring: D.B. Sweeney, Ossie Davis
Director: Eric Leighton
Rated: PG
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: May 2000
Genres: Animation, Kids, Action


*Also starring: Samuel E. Wright, Julianna Margulies, Max Casella, Della Reese, Alfre Woodard



Review by MrBrown
3 stars out of 4

_Dinosaur_ marks another advancement for Walt Disney Pictures' animation division. It is the first computer-animated feature from the Mouse to be produced entirely in-house, as opposed to their hit collaborations with the Pixar animation studio. The film also convincingly blends CGI characters with live action backdrops. With such innovation on display, it's unfortunate that the makers of _Dinosaur_ couldn't find a more interesting story to tell.

_Dinosaur_'s story is typical of Disney's traditionally animated features, where a young protagonist comes of age. Here it is the young iguanodon Aladar (voiced by D.B. Sweeney), who is raised by a loving family of lemurs after his egg is displaced (in a truly spectacular wordless opening sequence). Aladar's pleasant life with foster caregivers Yar (Ossie Davis) and Plio (Alfre Woodard) is violently interrupted when a meteorite destroys their island home, and they and young lemurs Zini (Max Casella) and Suri (Hayden Panettiere) find themselves with a herd of dinos braving battering heat and a lack of water to make it to their lush nesting ground.

That's the entire film--the dinosaurs making their long trek to the nesting ground, with Aladar coming into his own while bonding with budding love interest Neera (Julianna Margulies) as well as old dinos Eema (Della Reese) and Baylene (Joan Plowright), and butting heads with the group's leader Kron (Samuel E. Wright), who sees no fault with letting the weak in the pack get lost and/or die. There are some good, thrilling set pieces, namely those involving the ravenous carnotaurs who stalk the pack. But they are just pieces in the larger puzzle that is Aladar's coming of age, a tale that Disney has told in more entertaining and emotionally satisfying ways in films past.

However, Disney hasn't told the tale in such a visually striking way. The seamless compositing of the CGI creatures with the live action settings has a lot to do with the nearly photo-real quality of the computer effects. The textures, from Aladar's scaly skin to the fur of the lemurs, are remarkably lifelike and meticulously detailed. The creatures also move convincingly like dinosaurs; the dinosaurs' ability to speak aside, the film feels like an authentic recreation of life during the cretaceous.

Perhaps that's why that opening sequence, in which Aladar's egg is removed from its nest and dropped onto the lemur island, is _Dinosaur_'s big highlight. Told without a single spoken word, it is so compelling because it feels so real. When the speech and the familiar story kick in, the film feels less so--and, hence, less fresh. _Dinosaur_ is indeed a sight to behold--and one well worth paying the full movie ticket price to see--but it could've been a more nourishing feast for the mind.

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