I’ve taken a while in reviewing Disney’s DINOSAUR
because I wanted to check out the recent DVD release
of WALKING WITH DINOSAURS, so I could make
the mental comparison between the two.
When I talked to Paul Verhoeven at the screening I
saw of THE HOLLOW MAN, I asked what he
thought of DINOSAURS finally hitting screens this
summer with talking dinosaurs?
Verhoeven then began shaking his head. He said that
very little was the same. He liked it that the asteroid
was going to hit the earth, but that other than that...
his movie... the one he was going to make with Phil
Tippett and Dennis Muren was going to be about as
different as you could imagine.
There was to be no talking. It was to be Paul
Verhoeven’s Nature Epic. You would see the
dinosaurs pissing and shitting and fucking and eating
and killing. Because.... that’s what dinosaurs did.
And at the end, the asteroid would come and they
would all die. This magnificent vision of gigantic
titans roaming the earth would come to a fiery death.
The smallest of dinosaurs that survived the impact
would be preyed upon by those creatures from the air,
and in the end.... it would be the end for Dinosaurs.
It would have been bloody and violent. An epic told
in pantomime, with no human expressions or lips. It
would simply be Paul Verhoeven’s reality of
pre-history. To Phil Tippett it would have marked a
dream come true. At the time it was to cost $45
million, of course that was not the film Disney wanted
And really, as reasonable people I think we can
understand why that movie was not made. I mourn it,
I would have loved to of seen it. But Disney, at no
point in it’s history, would have made that movie. In
fact, I dare say there is not one studio on the planet
today that would have the out and out vision to make
And... this is sad. Instead, the closest we’ll see is the
recent BBC/DISCOVERY CHANNEL program,
WALKING WITH DINOSAURS. It’s basically a
Natural Geographic presentation of the history of
dinosaurs with stunning special effects computer
animation. In it, Dinosaurs piss and shit and fuck
and eat and kill. And depending on which version
you see, you’ll hear Avery Brooks or Kenneth
Branagh go on about what it is you are seeing.
Personally, I wish there was an alternative soundtrack
that would give you just the sounds in their world and
the score.... with no narration. But that’s probably
Now, going into Walt Disney’s DINOSAUR it is
unfair to Disney and the filmmakers to take the
preceding baggage with you. The above is not the
film Disney set out to make. It was an abandoned
But you know, when I went to see this film a couple
of weeks back, I sat there in a hall filled with children
that didn’t know about anything other than the film in
front of them.
They knew the dinosaurs would talk. They knew
there would be cute little lemurs. And we all knew
there would have to be a happy ending.
Instead, as I sat there and began to see what this
was... I realized that it is the biggest departure yet for
the Walt Disney company within the realm of their
Feature Animation department.
In DINOSAURS there is absolutely zero songs or
singing. Death is very real in the movie, and when
they are going for their very intense dinosaur action
moments... they rock pretty hard. The
cinematography and animation is amazing. The team
at Disney should not be being fired, but rather... they
should instantly be put to work on the next amazing
animated film from their department. I still have
hopes to see an EXPEDITION film.
As an entertainment for the under 15 crowd, this
movie is amazing. The children in the room were
very much excited by every moment of this film.
The smartest decision they made was to not give that
big mean as hell dinosaur a voice. He is pure flesh
When the lemurs were doing their schtick... the
children were laughing and enjoying themselves, and
as much as I would roll my eyes at ‘the love monkey’,
I couldn’t help but notice that his lame jokes worked
really well on the kids.
However, I do have an idea for what Disney could do
on the DVD if they really wanted to rule the earth.
If you look on the recent GALAXY QUEST dvd,
they have an alternative Thermian (I believe that’s
spelled right) track, that dubs the whole film into this
On DINOSAURS, an alternative full digital sound
track that did nothing but replace dialogue with
dinosaur noises and lemur noises.... well, I would
love it. And I believe so would just about all of the
detractors out there.
The biggest problem with the film though is
something that just can’t be ignored... and this is what
truly keeps the film from being as great as it could
be... and that is that... quite frankly, Disney has gone
to the well too many times with this story.
It’s the prototypical Disney story. Orphan finds his
place in the world and becomes an adult! Sigh.
Yeah, I get it. And if every frame of this film wasn’t
frame-able... well, I could get very very angry.
However, if you do not see this film on the big screen
you are cheating yourselves out of what is quite
honestly one of the most visually breathtaking
spectacles I have seen recorded to film. You must
see this on the biggest screen you can find. Go to a
matinee, and just gawk at it.
It’s not a great film, it is a pretty good kids’ flick, that
geeks will just stare in awe at. Nothing is as flat out
perfect as the opening 14 minutes or so, which is just
However, if after the film you are hungering for more,
go buy the DVD of WALKING WITH
DINOSAURS, which is the vastly superior creation.
And while the Dinosaurs don’t talk... Kenneth
Branagh does... so each has its inanities...