Walk­ing the dino talk

Based on the ac­claimed bbc doc­u­men­tary, this an­i­mated di­nosaur fea­ture is one for the kids.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - By MICHAEL CHEANG en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

IWALKED with di­nosaurs once. Al­though to be fair, I was the one who was do­ing most of the walk­ing – the di­nosaur mod­els at the ex­hi­bi­tion just sort of stood around roar­ing.

I even talked to the di­nosaurs as well, though they never re­ally talked back, un­like the ones in this film.

From the touch­ing The Land Be­fore Time (I’m con­ve­niently ig­nor­ing the fact that there was a Land Be­fore Time 2 to 13 as well) to 1980s’ car­toon Di­nosaucers (di­nosaurs from space fir­ing laser guns!), talk­ing di­nosaurs are noth­ing new.

What Walk­ing With Di­nosaurs: The Movie ( WWD) re­minded me the most of, how­ever, was Dis­ney’s 2000 an­i­mated film Di­nosaur. That film also fea­tured al­most pho­to­re­al­is­tic ren­di­tions of di­nosaurs, gen­er­ally lum­ber­ing around and talk­ing, mostly in Amer­i­can ac­cents. I re­mem­ber watch­ing that film and think­ing, “Ooh, I didn’t know di­nosaurs could talk, and that their lips could move that way! Hey, wait a minute ...”

Well, WWD also goes the pho­to­re­al­is­tic talk­ing di­nosaur route, but for­tu­nately, the di­nosaurs here don’t have mov­ing lips.

Set in the late Cre­ta­ceous pe­riod some 70 mil­lion years ago, the plot of the movie re­volves around a Pachyrhi­nosaurus named Patchi (Justin Long) as he grows from in­fant­hood to adult­hood, em­bark­ing on a mi­gra­tory jour­ney (well, sev­eral jour­neys, ac­tu­ally) with the rest of the herd, which in­cludes his friend Alex (an Alex­or­nis bird voiced by John Leguizamo), his brother Scowler (Skyler Stone), and a fe­male Pachyrhi­nosaurus named Ju­niper (Tiya Sir­car).

Prob­a­bly one of the best di­nosaur­re­lated movies in re­cent times is Ice Age, which at least didn’t even pre­tend it was based on ac­tual sci­ence. Since it is ac­tu­ally based on the ac­claimed doc­u­men­tary tele­vi­sion minis­eries that was pro­duced by BBC how­ever, the pres­sure is on WWD to re­main sci­en­tif­i­cally sound while de­liv­er­ing a movie that ac­tu­ally has a plot.

Roar­ing di­nosaurs and epic di­nosaur bat­tles are all very ex­cit­ing, but the film would have been slower than an obese Tricer­atops if that was all it had.

Now, plots in­volv­ing di­nosaurs can be tricky, es­pe­cially when your lead char­ac­ters are her­bi­vores like the Pachyrhi­nosaurus – all they do is lum­ber around munch­ing leaves, head­but­ting each other oc­ca­sion­ally, and then trun­dle en masse dur­ing their sea­sonal mi­gra­tions.

Sure, they have to fight off at­tacks by the dreaded Gor­gosaurus oc­ca­sion­ally, but still, most Pachyrhi­nosaurus mi­gra­tions would prob­a­bly make the Fel­low­ship of the Ring’s trudge through Mid­dle-earth seem like The Fast And The Fu­ri­ous.

So, what is a film pro­ducer to do then? Why, give his main man a love in­ter­est, of course!

This is where the film started to go down­hill for me. Up till Ju­niper is in­tro­duced, I was quite happy with the way WWD was turn­ing out so far. di­rec­tors: Neil Nightin­gale and barry cook Voice cast: John Leguizamo, Justin Long, tiya Sir­car, Skyler Stone

Sure, it prob­a­bly has the lamest di­a­logue this side of the Cre­ta­ceous pe­riod (Leguizamo’s lines were es­pe­cially bad. We miss Sid the sloth al­ready.) and the live-ac­tion in­tro fea­tur­ing Karl Ur­ban as the world’s most un­con­vinc­ing palaeon­tol­o­gist was pretty cringe-wor­thy, but at least the di­nosaurs were gor­geously an­i­mated, and their lips didn’t move when they were talk­ing.

I also liked how they in­tro­duced each new di­nosaur doc­u­men­tarystyle, with a cap­tion stat­ing its name, mean­ing of the name, and whether it’s an her­bi­vore, om­ni­vore, or a car­ni­vore.

But with the in­tro­duc­tion of a love in­ter­est, in­credulity started to set in.

Our hero’s in­ten­tions were over­shad­owed by his love, what­ever cred­i­bil­ity the film had had been mud­dled, and by the time Patchi rose to his in­evitable “leader of the herd” sta­tus, I was al­ready wish­ing a Gor­gosaurus would turn up with a laser­gun and shoot ev­ery Pachyrhi­nosaurus in sight.

Then again, this film prob­a­bly wasn’t meant for cyn­i­cal, jaded adults like me. If this had come out when I was about seven to 10 years old, that di­nosaur-lov­ing ver­sion of me would have loved this film to bits. With its child-friendly di­a­logue and awe­some im­ages of those ter­ri­ble lizards, Walk­ing With Di­nosaurs is strictly for the kids.

Gor­geous sauri­ans: the di­nosaurs in the movie are beau­ti­fully an­i­mated and at least their lips don’t move when they ‘talk’ – but the di­a­logue is pretty cringe-wor­thy.

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