Ossus Library Index Science Fiction Movie Index

DINOSAUR

Directed by Eric Leighton & Ralph Zondag (2000, Walt Disney Pictures)
Featuring voices by D.B. Sweeney, Alfre Woodard, and Julianna Margulies

A young dinosaur and his adopted lemur family travel to new nesting grounds after their island is wiped out by meteors.

 

 

3+ stars+

June 3rd, 2001 on Video

 
    Really good visuals and music, and a pretty good story with a message combine to make a very entertaining movie. I liked it.

After hearing all the negative buzz surrounding this movie, I was almost afraid to watch it. I should have seen it in the theatre. While it is not up to the caliber of other Disney movies, most of the visuals were truly outstanding. I have to admit, however, that I was not as impressed with the music as I was during the preview for this movie that preceded Toy Story 2. But it got better when they met up with the other dinosaurs, and from there on, it was very appropriate.

What I found most interesting was the different philosophies presented. Alatar is a dinosaur who grows up with a group of lemurs on an island isolated from other dinosaurs. He never knew the ideas or the ways of his kind, and so takes on the values of his mammalian adopted family. They teach him that only in a community, or family, can things get done successfully. 

After the meteor storm destroys their island, and Alatar is able to save only his family, they come across a herd of dinosaurs being led towards the traditional nesting grounds, presumably the same nesting grounds that Alatar's egg was stolen from. The dinosaurs are being led by Kron, a bullying brute, who obviously knows enough to get the job done. But he also leads in a very militant, aggressive style, and believes in survival of the fittest. The weak and the slow will only help to destroy the herd. 

Alatar befriends some of the old ladies at the end of the group, who are having trouble keeping up. He challenges Kron's leadership by questioning his methods. He also falls in love with Kron's sister, Neera. Though Kron leads the herd successfully to the nesting grounds, they are on the verge of exhaustion. When they expect to find a lake, and discover that it has dried up, the group is pushed even farther by Kron. However, Alatar finds that all the group had to do was work together, and they could dig up enough water to refresh the herd.

But disaster strikes again, as two hungry carnosaurs are found to be hunting the herd. The herd's tail end is most vulnerable, but Alatar can't leave his new friends behind. They find a cave and settle down, and are discovered by the carnotaurs. Kron's assistant, a dinosaur who discovered the carnotaurs and was maimed in the process, joins them, and eventually comes to respect Alatar's way of doing things. He sacrifices himself to save them by bringing down the roof of the cavern on one of the carnotaurs.

Alatar and his ragtag group find that the cave leads to the nesting grounds, once a rockslide is brought down. He also discovers that the traditional way into the valley has been blocked off. He warns Kron, but the leader is so frustrated and infuriated that he won't listen. When the remaining carnotaur attacks, Alatar rallies the group, who drives the fierce creature off, simply by their numbers. This is mammalian thinking. 

Kron resists, and the carnotaur sees him as an easy target, compared with the combined strength of the herd. Alatar and Neema drive the carnotaur off a cliff, but Kron dies in the process. 

Alatar and Neema's courtship was hinted at by the opening scene, which was a terrific visual feast. The lemurs, monkey-like, engage in a courtship ritual just before the meteors hit. Though I have to say the male lemurs were really ugly, the scenes with them flying through the air, and swinging on the vines was amazing. 

There were a few shots that seemed to be a cheat, in that it seemed that we were looking at a still shot for several seconds -no trees or clouds moving, a still figure in the distance. But overall, most of the visuals were wonderful. The dinosaurs were done on a scale so much better than Jurassic Park, but it has been nearly a decade since that, so it would be expected. There wasn't much characterization, except for Alatar, the two old ladies (who were quite funny), Plio (Alatar's foster mother), and Kron. The others were barely supporting characters. 

I think this movie was made more for an adult viewer, as it conveyed very serious material. The younger kids should enjoy some of the cute creatures, and older kids should get the message that cooperation is better than competition. But the story was very adult. And as such, it was quite enjoyable.
 
   

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