Review: Walking with Dinosaurs – The 3D Movie / Cert: U / Director: Nell Nightingale, Barry Cook / Screenplay: John Collee / Starring: John Leguizamo, Justin Long, Skylar Stone, Tiya Sircar, Karl Urban / Release Date: Out Now
When dinosaurs roamed the earth, it's hard to imagine what it was like. Left with only bones and fossils, humanity can really only imagine the sight of a Tyrannosaurus Rex walking past us (although surely Jurassic Park is a trustworthy reconstruction!). Well, back in 1999, the BBC attempted to take the nature documentary format and some new CG technology and tell us what the prehistoric nature of the Mesozoic period was like in Walking with Dinosaurs. So comes this new film adaptation, which takes the visuals to a whole new level. Sadly this quality is scuppered by questionable decisions made along the way. This film focuses on the journey of one pachyrhinosauruss called Patchi (voiced by Justin Long) and charts his growth in a Jurassic journey of love, conflict and leadership.
The original BBC mini-series aimed to educate a family audience about dinosaurs and did so through narration and visuals. Which makes this film version all the more baffling as it is almost carved from a different stone entirely. Kids love dinosaurs, heck we all do, so why did anyone feel it necessary to turn the documentary format into a soapy plot that already feels prehistorically dated? In fact the film feels ripped off from Disney’s 2000 film Dinosaur. This lazily scripted feature opts to give the dinosaurs annoying voices, instead of relying on balanced narration to educate and inform. Children are not stupid and do not need dinosaurs spewing colloquialisms to “connect” to them. This film takes the animators strenuous hard work and ruins it.
It's hard to fathom just why the producers felt they had to make this film into more of a cartoon. The animation works wonders but the misplaced addition of forgettable pop songs and the grating dialogue make you wish there was a mute option in cinemas. On the plus side, the very young kids will probably enjoy it and there are educational aspects to this visually majestic film. The 3D fantastically complements those visuals too and there are occasional moments of strong emotion. It is just unfortunate that so much focus has been put on making this film accessible and marketable (surely it was already) when it could have been both without all this Disney-baiting nattering.
Had the film relied on funny, witty and educational narration over sluggish humour and plotting to tell this story, this film really could have been special. As it is, Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie attempts to anthropomorphize these creatures but consequently puts the film at odds with its source material and itself. Such a shame.
Expected Rating: 8 out of 10