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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Dinosaur (2000)



Reviews and Comments

As a pure visual, visceral experience, Dinosaur is spectacular. At many times -- and I'd have liked to more often -- I sat back and soaked in the images and music and let them sweep me away. Dinosaur works much much better than the dinosaur segment in Fantasia, that film's only weak spot. For those who aren't aware, the scenery in this movie is real, while the dinosaurs are computer animated. The animation is seamless; not once did the merger of animation and live footage seem disjointed or amiss. But it's beyond realistic: it's amazing. Breathtaking.

It would be interesting, I think, for the whole movie to follow the pattern of the first four minutes: no talking dinosaurs, no humanity in animal skin, just pure visual storytelling with spectacular imagery and fantastic music. Such a movie would have me nailed to my seat; alas, such a movie would not be as commercially safe as Dinosaur.

But, in evaluating films objectively, one must evaluate them for what they are, not what they aren't. Dinosaur is a Disney animated family film with the typical plot associated with Disney animated family films. But while the plot may be typical, it's still effective. The movie never stops being compelling and engrossing. The only time I looked at my watch was toward the end, when I started to sense things moving toward closure, and I could scarcely believe how much time had flown by. When I wasn't wrapped up in the interaction of the characters, I was on the edge of my seat. This is a very suspenseful movie.

While it may be interesting to use Dinosaur as a jumping off point for speculation about "purer" or "freer" uses of animation, I would interpret that as a sign that Dinosaur did its job and then some: it entertained us enough to crave more and inspired us enough to set our imaginations churning. I'd see this movie again just for the first four minutes. In fact, I'd see it again for almost any four minute stretch in the movie, and I'm buying the soundtrack.