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Disney's DINOSAUR review

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 to make.

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 that movie.

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 just me.

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 direction.

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 ripping horror.

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 alien language.

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 pure spectacle.

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...

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