Walking with Dinosaurs (Three Dimensional Cinema) Film Reviewed

At a little over eight-five minutes this is a dinosaur themed, fun adventure aimed squarely and surely at the under tens. Although made by a partnership between the BBC (BBC Earth) and 20th Century Fox, the movie is reminiscent of a number of childrens’ films made by Disney. Disney themselves at the turn of the Century made a CGI (computer generated images), dinosaur movie (Dinosaur), this film involved a dinosaur migration and a coming of age story, a very similar plot for this latest cinema offering.

The Disney movie was set in the Cretaceous, as is this new release, but in the case of Walking with Dinosaurs, the film is based around events taking place at the very end of the Cretaceous. The action involves the adventures of horned dinosaurs (a type of Ceratopsian called a Pachyrhinosaurus). As the dinosaurs and other prehistoric animal’s featured do not move their lips to speak, it is a little like reading the animal’s thoughts. However, the plot is kept bubbling along thanks to the film’s narrator, a prehistoric bird called Alex. Alex befriends the hero of the piece, a Pachyrhinosaurus called Patchi. Patchi may be the offspring of Bulldust the big leader of his herd, but he himself is regarded as the runt of the litter. Over the course of his exploits, which sees him ultimately rising through the ranks of horned dinosaurs to be his herd’s leader, Patchi proves that brains are sometimes better than sheer muscle.

Migration of Pachyrhinosaurs

It seems that palaeontologists now know that lots of dinosaurs lived in the northern latitudes of Alaska and elsewhere in North America. The Pachyrhinosaurs and the Edmontosaurs (duck-billed dinosaurs), made seasonal migrations northwards and then back down south. It is thought that these animals went north in the summer to feed on the conifers, ferns and other plants that grew continuously in the 24 hours of daylight of an Alaskan summer. When the autumn winds came, these reptiles would then migrate south towards warmer, over wintering grounds. Over the ten years that the film supposedly covers, Alex (our bird narrator) tells the story of Patchi, his brother Scowler and their various adventures. These horned beasts do seem to get into a number of scrapes, lots of mini adventures in the film, supposedly to keep very young audience members intrigued and following the story.

“Infotainment” Movie

For the mums and dads in the audience there is some solace to be gained by the fact that every now and then, when a new character is introduced, the action is stopped and up pops the name of the new prehistoric animal and some further information such as herbivore, omnivore or carnivore. This can help those who are not budding palaeontologists follow what is going on, although the excessive dialogue does tend to ensure that everyone knows what is going to happen and what is likely to happen next. The makers of this film must have studied fossils and other evidence in a bid to make the movie realistic.

Love in the Time of Pachyrhinosaurs

Patchi our young hero, even finds time to fall in love. He meets blue-eyed Juniper from another herd of Pachyrhinosaurs and after an encounter with a fierce group of meat-eating dinosaurs, Scowler, Juniper and Patchi get separated and have to find their own way south to the winter feeding grounds. Their relationship does not get off to the best of starts as when Patchi first sees Juniper he is not quite sure what she is as she is covered in ash after surviving a particularly nasty forest fire.

Lots of Other Prehistoric Animals Featured in the Film

The film makers, I think one of the writers helped create the Disney film Mulan (hence, perhaps the Disney influence), have included a lot of different prehistoric animals into the film. As well as other members of the Dinosauria, there are huge flying reptiles (Pterosaurs), fast running mammals, and of course prehistoric birds. One of the best bits of the whole film was when an enormous herd of duck-billed dinosaurs appeared, the CGI effects were really impressive. Fossils of duck-billed dinosaurs have been found in North America. The computer generated images generally worked well, although not stunning the film making team had obviously worked hard to make their animations fit in well into the back drops and backgrounds.

Worth Seeing in Three Dimension Cinema

3-D cinema is very trendy at the moment, Walking with Dinosaurs is available in both 2-D and 3-D formats. The 3-D film had some nice touches, it really does feel like you are in the middle of the herd, or up close to a fearsome Gorgosaurus (the villain of the piece). One of the favourite bits of 3-D effect came when a big, beaked Pterosaur tossed a crab at the audience, everybody near me jumped back and there were lots of giggles from the young children watching.

Nature Red in Tooth and Claw

Although the film has a certificate “U” – unclassified, parents of particularly young children need to be appear that nature is depicted in all its gory details. For example, dinosaurs hunt, they attack and some animals do get eaten, including one of Patchi’s relatives, but the death does occur off-screen. Very young children might get a bit frightened especially when the meat-eating dinosaurs appear on-screen or during the forest fire scene or the part of the movie when the heavy, slow Pachyrhinosaurs find themselves trapped on an icy lake.

Worldwide Cinema Release

Although this film shares the same title as the famous BBC television series, it is not a nature documentary, it is very much a movie aimed at young dinosaur fans and as it has been released globally within a few days, expect dinosaur mania for the next few weeks. BBC and 20th Century Fox have even hinted at future collaborations including more films. With the whole of the Age of Dinosaurs to explore, and with so many different types of prehistoric animals known to science, I guess the film makers are not going to be short of subject material. One other word of warning, there are lots of poop jokes, obviously aimed at children. Unlike other animated stories (Toy Story for instance), the dialogue does not work at different levels. Adult humour is avoided and this dinosaur romp is aimed very much at entertaining the kiddies over the Christmas holidays.

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