Our Score: 1 out of 5 stars
I try my hardest not to walk into a film with any preconceived notions that may ruin the movie going experience for me. I may see a commercial for it or see a tidbit in the news about it, but that doesn’t affect my opinion. I tell myself every time after a commercial, “That 30 seconds is not the movie.” Before the movie even begins I stash away what reservations I do have when “BBC Earth” pops up as one of the studios. The same studio that has brought us critically acclaimed documentaries like “Frozen Planet”, “Life” and others.“Maybe there is hope for this movie,” I think to myself. After the second vomit joke and the flick’s first poop joke, I think BBC Earth might wanna consider burning whatever bridges they have to this movie.
So what happened to this well shot film? First we start off with our modern day introduction. A useless subplot has uncle Zack (Karl Urban) taking his nephew Ricky and his niece Jade to a local spot to do some paleontology. Already I feel bad for Mr. Urban. Obviously the nephew is too cool to dig around for dinosaurs, so he lingers back. That’s when he hears Alex, a talking bird (Leguizamo), who plans to change his mind. Alex then becomes the narrator to a trio of pachyrhinosaurus. The first is Patchi (Long), a young dino with plenty of shortcomings and no charm. The second is his love at first glance friend, Juniper (Sircar). But Patchi’s annoying older brother Scowler (Stone) who spouts off tough guy lingo also likes Juniper. Not for any other reason besides ownership. Literally. As for the plot, it’s another copy and paste story line with a dry theme about courage. Unless you’re a girl. Then the moral of the story is, men will fight to own you. Deal with it.
The supposed narrative by Alex is confusing. He switches from talking to Patchi, to narrating the movie, to possibly talking to our human back in present time and then speaking directly to the audience. It’s frustrating and a definite sign that there were about four different ideas crammed into this movie. Three of those ideas were terrible.The one idea that could have worked, teaching kids about dinosaurs, is buried. I’m sure co-director Neil Nightingale was the redeeming quality while everyone else decided crude bowel movement humor should triumph science and learning.
Another confusing aspect is that the dinosaurs by themselves already make animal sounds. They moan, whine, roar and coo. The voice-overs feel like they were done at the last minute. It really seems like Justin Long and Tiya Sircar cashed their check before entering the studio. I don’t know who thought it would be a good idea to Mystery Science Theater these creatures, but it was a terrible idea. The movie would have been miles better without it’s dubbed demeaning dialogue exchanges and juvenile jokes.
At it’s very basic minimal core, it’s a made for TV documentary on dinosaurs with grade ‘A’ graphics. It probably would have been in science classes on days where the teacher would rather dim the lights and let the glow of the TV do the lecturing. What we have instead is a confusing movie overflowing with verbal garbage and tacky plot devices. There’s plenty of better options for children’s movies this holiday and better ways to teach them about these prehistoric creatures. Here’s a final warning: Despite your parental cries of agony, the theater will not mute the screen.