This film has been rendered extinct…
When a young Iguanadon, Aladar, is sheltered from the outside world, a meteor strike forces him to join a herd of other dinosaurs on their way to the Nesting Grounds. As he protects his family and the weaker of the herd from their stubborn leader, he learns more about society… And how to change it for the better.
The plot of this film is sadly, standard and rote compared to Disney’s future and past output, and also similar. The beginning of the film takes from Tarzan, and some of the first quarter takes from Finding Nemo, while the rest reminds me of a plot one would find in an old wild west television show. Basically, a young newcomer tries to change the mind of an old, stubborn community leader while threats close in on the community of easily led people. While this is a stock plot, this is barely a plot at all.
My PLOT RATING is 5 / 10.
Aladar (D.B. Sweeney) is your standard ‘hero’ character. He doesn’t have much to do other than to react to what is going on around him. He’s clumsy and just a swell guy all around, but he doesn’t have much to have him stand out from the pack of Disney Heroes. Neera (Julianna Margulies) is even less interesting here, only serving the role of ‘love interest’ to Aladar, or offering some kind advice (and once, a mean shoulder shove) when needed.
Kron (Samuel E. Wright) and Bruton (Peter Siragusa) are the antagonists of the film, yet they are given no depth. Their main goal is to get the herd to the Nesting Grounds at any cost and that last italicized piece is what I have issue with. They don’t have any other motivation or drive aside from that. Bruton does get some more characterization and learns how to be a decent person, but even then, it isn’t enough to make them better characters. They are essentially the same character with somewhat different outcomes.
The lemurs are the comedic relief of the cast. They are all basically interchangeable and not given a solid structure as to who they are once the story begins, and their names are difficult to remember. The father lemur Yar (Ossie Davis) and his son Zini (Max Casella) are the main comedic focus (Zini annoyingly so) while the two female lemurs, Plio (Alfre Woodard) and Suri (Hayden Panettiere), are given more heart. They all give Aladar advice and back him up at points in the film, even if the advice falls flat.
The rest of the herd is given little personality, except for Baylene (Joan Plowright) and Eema (Della Reese), who prove their strength beyond their years at points of the film. To me they are the true comedic relief of the film, wisecracking and sarcastic as they are. They play better than the lemurs and give some heart to the film, proving that more aged Disney characters are just funnier.
Lastly, the raptors and Carnotaurs pose a great threat in the film and while not given lines aside from roars, deserve mention here. They are intimidating and require some outside-the-box-thinking to defeat, and actual planning by the characters at points. They’re the best characters in the film.
My CHARACTERS RATING is 6 / 10.
The dialogue here is unmemorable. No lines stick out aside from quips and short segments here and there, but the script is just barely serviceable. It gets the plot moving at least, and simplistic lessons can be gained from it. The lack of dialogue in the first few scenes are excellent though, showing how to use the lack of dialogue effectively, at least.
My DIALOGUE RATING is 6 / 10.
The effects in this film are pretty good. The backgrounds are all live action, filming in locations like South America and Asia to get broad, sweeping backgrounds. The first few scenes of the film are dialogue-less, focusing on the visuals alone. It’s awesome. Sadly, the rest of the film is mostly a mix of brown and grey, with touches of green here and there, a stark contrast to the beauty of the first few scenes. The effects are also somewhat dated, and keep aging worse over time.
My EFFECTS RATING is 7 / 10.
While there aren’t any lyrical songs to speak of, the main theme is great and at least hummable. The songs sometimes don’t match the intensity and tension of the scene, but when they do, they hit well. The vocalizations also add to the score, giving it a tribal, old-world feel.
My MUSIC RATING is 8 / 10.
While Dinosaur is not the worst film in the Disney Animated Canon, it certainly is not the best. While the music and effects are pretty good here, with a sweeping score and being Disney’s first foray into CGI, the characters, plot, and dialogue all suffer. What would have been a great short to put in front of another film is now expanded into a lackluster film that tried for spectacle, but settled for a generic story. This film would be great for young children, but for adults…
Most other Disney Films would be a better choice for the whole family.
Even the ride wasn’t that great…
My OVERALL RATING for Disney’s Dinosaur (2000) is 64%.