Blu-ray Review “Walking with Dinosaurs: The Movie”

Actors: John Leguizamo, Justin Long, Tiya Sircar, Karl Urban
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: March 25, 2014
Run Time: 88 minutes

Film: 2 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Originally, when I first saw this announced that this was going to be pretty cool having a live-action CGI feature about the 1999 BBC series and live tour. The film packs a great ensemble of talent including: John Leguizamo (“Ice Age” series), Justin Long (“Alvin and the Chipmunks” series) and Karl Urban (“Star Trek” series). Unfortunately, the film just doesn’t really work at all. Visually, its pretty freaking awesome but other that that I had trouble even finishing this one. Plus the dinosaurs mouths don’t move, so these voices end up coming out of nowhere…where dinosaurs able to talk telepathically? I would steer pretty clear for this one unless your kids are huge dinosaur buffs.

Official Premise: The gigantic voice talents of Justin Long (Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise) and John Leguizamo (Ice Age franchise) take you on a thrilling prehistoric journey the whole family will enjoy! In a time when dinosaurs rule the Earth, the smallest of the pack — a playful Pachyrhinosaurus named Patchi — embarks on the biggest adventure of his life. As he tries to find his place in a spectacular world filled with fun-loving friends and a few dangerous foes, Patchi will discover the courage he needs to become the leader of the herd…and a hero for the ages.

Fox delivered this film in a combo pack including a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet copy. I personally am a little disappointed since this film was filmed with the latest in cutting edge 3D technology from the masters behind “Avatar”. So I am sure that would have made the viewing experience a little better but still not perfect. Also the Deluxe Edition release contains an extra called the Cretaceous Cut, which is the movie in its “natural” version aka without the voices coming out of non-moving mouths. Nonetheless, the 1080p transfer is still very impressive and the CG animation does look quite stunning. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also works with the occasional action.

I am kind of conflicted about the special features here because, they lack any technical approach but they very educational and interactive for kids. Having a young daughter, I actually appreciate that even though I also wanted to see some a visual effects featurette personally. “The Ultimate Dino Guide” urges you to dive into and find out about greatest secrets about your favorite dinosaurs. “Match the Call” is a matching game which has you testing your skill on how the dinosaurs communicated. “Interactive Map” takes you on a tour on where the dinos roamed in comparison to today. Lastly “Brainosaur Trivia Track” is a pop-up track during the film giving fun and interesting facts.


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Film Review “Walking with Dinosaurs 3D”

Starring the Voices of: John Leguizamo, Justin Long and Tiya Sircar
Directed by: Neil Nightingale and Barry Cook
Rated: PG
Running Time: 87 minutes
20th Century Fox

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.