Walking With Dinosaurs: The Movie (2013)

Walking With Dinosaurs: The Movie (2013)

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You can tell him apart from the others because he has a hole in his head. Er, that's it.
You can tell him apart from the others because he has a hole in his head. Er, that’s it.

Twitter Plot Summary: The BBC TV series gets a big screen makeover, now with dinosaur dialogue!

Genre: Animation/Action/Family

Director: Barry Cook, Neil Nightingale

Key Cast: Justin Long, Karl Urban, Charlie Rowe, John Leguizamo, Tiya Sircar, Skyler Stone

Five Point Summary:

1. Ooh look, Karl Urban!
2. Fire!
3. Laughing at Gorgosaurus and its tiny arms.
4. Walking with dinosaurs… on ice?
5. A lucky break.

Walking With Dinosaurs was a groundbreaking BBC television series narrated with some style and sophistication by Kenneth Branagh. Walking With Dinosaurs The Movie takes the core concept of that series – filming real world locations and then adding CGI dinosaurs – and runs off in a completely different direction. These dinosaurs now have the ability to speak, although their mouths never move to the dialogue so it’s a little disconcerting to watch at first. Still, at least the real world locations used look amazing, as do the CGI dinosaurs added to the settings, for the most part. Repeating multiple shots of the same bird in flight does little to improve matters.

Thankfully there is plenty of amusement in the form of John Leguizamo’s prehistoric parrot Alex, a wisecracking bird who also co-narrates the story alongside Justin Long’s Pachi. Alex’s high point is a scientific breakdown of the strength and power of a Gorgasaurus which results in Alex breaking down into uncontrollable laughter when he starts discussing the Gorgo’s incredibly tiny arms. Pachi is the runt of a litter of Pachyrhinosaurus – a bit like a Triceratops for those who’s knowledge of dinosaurs is limited – and the story follows him as he learns the ways of the world (death, migration, more death) and grows to become a leader within his herd and seeks the love of Juniper, a Pachyrhinosaurus from another herd. This is where the film falls flat – if you’re going to do a Land Before Time style story, you need to at least to have characters you care about. In this case the characters are, Alex’s wisecracks aside, mostly superfluous and the story doesn’t engage you emotionally. If we cared about the characters then it would be a different film entirely, and that seems to be the mark they were aiming for. Sadly, it falls far short.

Alex (the bird) is the only reason to watch the film.
Alex (the bird) is the only reason to watch the film.

It’s all contained within a rather needless framing story where paleontologist Karl Urban (sorry, what?! Did he have a spare day to shoot this or something?) takes his niece and nephew out to a dig site where he had previously found a fossilised dinosaur tooth. His niece wonders what happened to the dinosaur that lost the tooth, and needless to say we find out. It’s watchable, but nothing anywhere near as groundbreaking as the series that spawned it. The science aspect isn’t put over as well as it could have been, and it would have clearly been a better received film if it had at least followed the same template as the TV series. Still, it does at least put focus on a different bunch of dinosaurs than we’re used to seeing on the big screen, so for that it should be commended. With that said however, the ones we do get to experience are essentially variations on the theme. As discussed above, a Pachyrhinosaurus looks a bit like a Triceratops, the Gorgasaurus looks a bit like a T-Rex, and so on. The other aspect to keep in mind is that research into dinosaurs is constantly evolving, so much of what features here was already out of date some time ago.

Favourite scene: Alex rips into the Gorgosaurus and his tiny arms.

Quote: “Lumber like the wind!”

Silly Moment: They’re talking but their mouths aren’t moving!

Score: 2.5/5

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