Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Dinosaurs are ugly, which makes it hard for Walt Disney animators to computer-generate cuteness into their lumpen frames. They pass the buck to the script department, which comes up with a sugar-coated storyline and dialogue that curls the toes.

The latest theory on the demise of the dinos is that an asteroid wiped them out. And so the movie starts at the end with space rocks raining down.

Copy picture

Aladar was brought up by lemurs that look like teddy bears. He's a vegetarian and a good sport, who hasn't any big friends because he's the only giant lizard on the island.

Once the asteroids commence their bombing campaign, everything on legs has to vamoose to higher ground. The movie becomes a journey, from the security of home to the uncertainty of the nesting grounds.

Dinosaurs from all over join the exodus, including T Rex and his pals, who behave like vicious cannibals. Aladar takes them on to save the group from being chomped to death.

He meets a dina - they look the same, except she says girly things in a soft voice - and has to stand up to the craggy group leader, who barks orders, expecting to be obeyed. The love interest has little opportunity to consummate and the clash with authority is sorted when the old general makes one mistake too many.

The music is monumental and the landscape limited to desert, or rocky mountain. Special effects are far from special. There is nothing to match the stampede in The Lion King, for instance, and visually the film suffers from its geographical uncertainty. Where are they? Where is this place? Big boulders and vast expanse of hostile country implies Death Valley, certainly nothing living.

An attempt to create characters out of these creatures fails. Even the monkeys who have weird humanised faces cannot establish real connection.

The asteroid storm is a bit of a scare, really. This is the story of animals who make a forced march through treacherous terrain to a valley of peace and tranquility.

Once you have marvelled at the charmless bulk of these prehistoric earthmovers and been halfway impressed by their creators' attempts to improve their image, there isn't a huge lot left.

There is no comparison between the creatures in Jurassic Park and The Lost World and these. Spielberg's films have the advantage of comparison, between live actors, who simulate terror, and monstrous reptiles that look so real you hold your breath when close to them. There are scenes in both these movies that are so scary, you'll never forget them.

Dinosaur's dinosaurs are not like that. They don't look half as real and when they are all together, they don't even look big, because everything's big, except the monkeys who don't even look like monkeys.

What is worse, there isn't a single scene that hooks into your memory.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
Share this with others on...
Dinosaur packshot
An orphan dinosaur hunts for fresh nesting grounds after a meteorite wipes out his home.
Amazon link

Director: Ralph Zondag, Eric Leighton

Writer: John Harrison, Robert Nelson Jacobs

Starring: Voiced by: DB Sweeney, Alfre Woodard, Ossie Davis, Max Casella, Hayden Panettiere Samuel E Wright,

Year: 2000

Runtime: 82 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


Search database:

If you like this, try:

Ice Age 2: The Meltdown