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Reviewed March 4th, 2001 by Brian White


With Dinosaur, Disney has splashed some more eye candy across the screen, and taken computerized effects to a new level. Combining actual live-action landscapes with computerized characters creates an often stunning and surreal viewing experience. The film boasts the voice talents of D.B. Sweeney, Alfre Woodard, Ossie Davis, and Max Casella. Despite all the magic, Dinosaur does not provide the wow-inspiring experience that Toy Story and Bug’s Life provide.

One of the major problems with the movie, and especially in light of the Pixar films, is the lack of heart. It seems like Disney was more interested in the visual, and the plot was a secondary concern. In the movie, the protagonist (a Dinosaur)’s egg is swept away during the credit sequence, which establishes the Moses metaphor that develops through the story. The baby dinosaur is adopted by monkeys, and is happy enough until a meteor destroys his home, and most of their people. He, and the monkeys, meet up with a group of dinosaurs. True to the Disney formula, some dinosaurs are mean, some are nice. The heard are on their way to the “nesting ground.” The Exodus parallel continues.

The writers of this film think that they can get the audience emotionally involved by showing the characters in heartbreak or misery through most of the story only to prosper in the end (that isn’t a spoiler, this is a Disney film after all). It just isn’t enough. You walk away from this film thinking, “Wow, that looked cool…. What was it about?”

Having griped away, if someone thawed out Uncle Walt, he’d probably be pretty proud of the film his company was able to put together. Also, some second or third graders who really like dinosaurs might be endlessly entertained by this disc.

How does the film look? It’s stunning. Both widescreen and pan & scan transfers are included, but the “full frame” DOESN’T WORK!!!!!!!! That’s right, select full frame, and it chugs to a halt. Remember when THX certification meant something? Apparently Disney is fixing the problem. The anamorphic, 1.85:1 transfer is tall enough to fill most of the screen. This is a beautiful film, and the DVD format helps it shine.

Also included are Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 tracks. They both sound very good, and similar. It’s a dynamic and entertaining mix.

Despite the fact that this is the standard edition of the DVD (there’s also a 2-disc Collector’s edition), there’s plenty in the extras department. You get the typical enthusiastic documentary from the producers about how cool the movie looks, and what a great advance it is. You also get some cool games for the kids: the best involves a search through caves looking for movie characters, played with the DVD remote; the other is a Where’s Waldo-like search for dinosaur parts. The extras are rounded out by a Dinopedia thing that the kids might be able to stand.


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