Now, before I move on to review, yes, The Land Before Time had a buttload of sequels. I know, we get it. It’s the oldest joke in the book for this franchise. Will I review them? Maybe a few, if the dinosaurs in them are interesting.
It could be interesting, I say cautiously.
All that aside, however, The Land Before Time and it’s infinite sequels was my childhood, and a big reason why I’m still into dinosaurs. I think I stopped watching at about the 11th (you read right) installment.
I found this premise at the age of 10 to be unrealistic.
Real Mussaurus grew beyond that size. Besides, one of these movies had aliens. Take that one to the table.
No, these films are more scientifically accurate.
Back to the task at hand. The Land Before Time was an animated kid family film that came out in the 80’s, a weird time for dinosaur science. New discoveries were taking shape, but people still wanted to hold on to the Charles Knight look, so many dinosaur depictions at this time looked like a weird chimera of both the old and new. Heck, this movie alone has more dinosaur tropes then I can shake a fossilized femur at: volcanic backgrounds, Rhamphorhynchus/Pteranodon hybrids, Dimetrodon in the Mesozoic, hadrosaurs living in swamps, upright tyrannosaurs, the works. Yet, it’s probably the most scientifically accurate dinosaur film of it’s time. Only Jurassic Park took it off the throne.
This sure as heck didn’t.
OK, let’s go take a look at each dinosaur in this film. Now, this review might be a little different. Since the dinosaurs in this film are more characters than anything, I can’t really label them just as their genus. with the main characters, I’ll give off both their surname and species, and picture both the main character and an adult version, even if I have to use examples from later films. It’s only fair. So first, i’ll go with the face of this franchise himself, the kid who has an adjective and noun for a name.
Littlefoot as an Apatosaurus is a little bit wonky. Sure, he’s a cartoon character and anatomical accuracy isn’t exactly the first priority, but there are still a few weird things about him. He’s got the skull of a traditional Brontosaurus, which we now know to actually be a Camarasaurus skull. Although this can be explained with him as many young animals have rounder faces, his grandparents don’t have such an excuse. They really do look like the traditional Charles Knight Brontosaurus. Yet, you can really see the old styles and new one clashing when you compare them to the mother, who looks fantastic! She has the correct, horse like face, and while her parents always have a swan like neck posture, hers is always straight. It’s on of the best Apatosaurs I’ve seen in a film ever!
Now, let’s look at Littlefoot’s three horned (not really) friend…
Now, Cera herself has caused a lot of confusion with the fans. Only recently have we found out what a baby Triceratops actually looks like.
Ain’t it cute?
So we do know that the young ones had two little horns on their brows, but for some reason, Cera only has the nose horn. Wouldn’t it make since that the longer ones would develop before the shortest one? I mean, even the sequels took note of this.
These guys are YOUNGER than Cera!
Some have decided that Cera is actually a Monoclonius/Centrosaurus that was adopted, but that doesn’t really make any sense.
Even if the resemblance is uncanny.
Her father doesn’t look much better. He looks like he stepped out of a Charles Knight/Burian painting.
Look at that classic Triceratops awesomeness!
He suffers from sprawling front legs, a condition that many early reconstructions of Triceratops suffer from. His daughter and Littlefoot seem to be stricken by this as well. Despite that, he does have a nostalgic look to him, and is indeed awesome. It does look especially weird however when you see this design in the much more recent sequels.
Alright, let’s look at the so called ‘Swimmer’ (ugh)….
Now, there has also been much confusion over what species of dinosaur Ducky is. Many fans (and myself) refer to her as a Saurolophus.
As pictured here.
Her mother most certainly resembles this dinosaur, but many official resources refer to her as a Parasaurolophus. However, that can’t be so as more accurate Parasaurs have appeared in the series as well.
One coloring book even says Anatosaurus!
Nope, don’t see it.
Heck, one critic even called her a platypus!
Was he even trying?
Nevertheless, I say she’s a Saurolophus.
Next up, we get the weird little pterosaur..
Petrie is another odd one to judge. He displayed some pretty accurate features in the first film, like resting on all fours (as pictured above). This was however dropped in the sequels. However, he also displays some weird, bird like features, like feet with the ability to roost. His mother is pretty similar, and are both really cartoony caricatures of Pterosaurs. His uncle, however, is a magnificent specimen.
The last of the main group of friends is also the youngest, and arguably the most uniquely portrayed.
Spike is unique in that he doesn’t automatically look like the dinosaur he’s supposed to be. Heck, I thought he was an Ankylosaurus as a kid. This is especially confusing as his tail spikes (or stumps) disappear after the first movie. But it makes since these features wouldn’t be developed on a young stegosaur, so I applaud them for that.
The adult stegosaurs in the series are pretty standard, with their tails often dragging, spikes sticking straight up, and front legs sprawled out. It may be inaccurate, but it’s a pretty classic design.
Now lets look at the main villain of the film, the most awesome dinosaur in the movie…
This T. rex is so 80’s. The upright stance, the drive to kill everything in sight, heck even the roar. Yet, that’s what makes him so awesome. Yeah, he’s cringe worthy by modern standards, but there is just something about that outdated design. IDK, it’s just so cool. This is what most people think of when they hear the name T. rex.
Yah! Get em!
Before we end, let’s take a look at some minor characters/creatures in the film. First we have Rooter, a something.
I really don’t know what he’s supposed to be. As a kid, I thought he was one of those old school depictions of Scelidosaurus.
See the resemblance?
But most people think he’s supposed to be one of those old school depictions of ankylosaur Scolosaurus.
We also get some Struthiomimus action in this movie, as we see one attempt to steal an egg.
That’s my job dang it!
Weird seeing an ornithomimid do this, but in the 80’s and 90’s, Struthiomimus was with Oviraptor as the go to dinosaur to steal your eggs.
This film also gives us a….*shiver*….a Dimetrodon.
Well well, someone’s a few eons late.
But remember, this is 80’s prehistoric land, so we get a bunch of nondescript vaguely primordial creatures.
Gang’s all here.
As I’ve already mentioned, the 80’s was a weird time for dinosaurs. Old depictions and new discoveries clashed in everything dinosaur at the time, and this movie is a perfect example of those interesting times, especially compared to the sequels. I will admit this film did try on many occasions, however, it’s just to dead set on the traditional depictions. But really, for this film, it’s ok. It’s a cartoon after all, and it totally works. In the end, I’m going to have to give this movie a…..
6.5 out of 10.
Thanks for being patient with me. I hope you appreciate this review because I ran into a lot of Rule 34 pics looking for pictures for this review. Plus now I have a bunch of Land Before Time pics saved on my computer. I’ll look at the dinosaurs of the sequels some other day, but for now, I say we return to the Jurassic Park universe.
But in video game form.
Jurassic Park Operation Genesis is next.