Movie Review: The Dinosaur Project / Cert: TBC / Director: Sid Bennet / Screenplay: Sid Bennet, Jay Basu / Natasha Loring, Matt Kane, Richard Dillane, Peter Brooke, Stephen Jennings / Release Date: August 10th
A cryptozoological team head out to the Congo to investigate sightings of an Ogopogo only to find a jungle infested with carnivorous creatures. When all contact is lost with the team search parties are sent out and come across a bag full of over 100 hours of footage which they piece together. A fun family horror that emulates aspects of Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park with spectacle, a hint of sci-fi and lots of laughs.
Luke Marchant (Matt Kane) has recently been expelled from school for ousting his headmaster’s secrets on YouTube. He is also the son of a famous explorer, Marchant (Richard Dillane), who is setting out on The Dinosaur Project to get a glimpse of the Ogopogo. His father has no time for him so Luke decides to stowaway on the helicopter over to the Congo to get his attention and prove himself. As they approach the island it is clear that all is not as it seems with pterodactyls circling overhead, the team crash land into a strange and dangerous territory.
From here on in we are treading on horror movie ground, especially with the element of found footage. As this team stumble through the jungle it becomes clear their only enemy isn’t dinosaurs but each other. Luke is seeking his father’s approval and provides the technical arm of the team, setting up cameras to allow for the found footage and night vision viewing which adds obscurity to the dinosaur attacks. Marchant provides an angry voice of reason as his relationship with his son reaches boiling point. He has his best interests at heart but it takes a trek across a land of supposedly extinct creatures to exhume their relationship. Richard Dillane is channelling Sam Neill’s Dr. Alan Grant as he awkwardly attempts to bond with his son crossed with Robert Muldoon’s Bob Peck. Complete with the hat and the khaki clothes, it is a lovely nod to Spielberg’s influence. Matt Kane does well at looking frightened and inquisitive. He plays well off Dillane in the depths of the Congo though his acting starts off a little shaky to begin with. The father and son bonding is at the centre of the story but there are some fun characters and beasts surrounding this pair.
Director Sid Bennett has a background in documentaries and TV movies featuring fantastical creatures of which this film is full of. Aimed at a younger audience, it favours jumps rather than tension showing the dinosaurs and their CGI skills off from the start of the journey. It moves in the usual monster movie parameters, with members of the team running madly from dinosaurs, but it doesn’t show anything other than some smattering of blood. The funniest moments are provided by cameraman Pete who brings along dinosaur top trumps with him and gets a fine final line. Luke is befriended by a dinosaur he lovingly names Crypto, a protector and loyal buddy, which will leave you pining for such a pet. The sense of humour, love and knowledge of these creatures will capture the kids’ imagination and there is a lot for us fossil types to appreciate too.
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10