The Good Dinosaur Official Trailer 2 Review

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https://whendinosaursruledthemind.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/introduction-remember-dinosaurs-theyre-different-now/

 

The time is inching closer and closer to the release date of Pixar’s latest and luckily for this blog dinosaur themed film The Good Dinosaur, and in anticipation of that fact a second full length trailer has been released. Now, if you’ve read my reactions to the previous trailers, you know that I am excited for this movie, but not just because it has dinosaurs in it (although that’s certainly a contributing factor). I was completely enamored by Pixar’s earlier release Inside Out, as it proved to me that this company still had what it takes to make great and unique films in this ever crowded movie market. Whether or not this film is another win for the company is yet to be seen, but until then I await this film with great anticipation. Anyway, let’s get into the trailer.

The trailer begins similarly to how the others before did, with them showing that the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs never hit the earth in this reality. After that, we get some new footage as well as some actual dialogue! Yep, the last two trailers were silent for the most part, but this is the first time we get to hear many of the characters talk. This includes a new character introduced in this trailer, Arlo’s dad voiced by Jeffrey Wright.

 

In this scene we see how Arlo is separated from his family, in what looks like a huge storm of some kind. I will admit, although I am interested to see how this plays out, I’m starting to get quite a few Land Before Time vibes out of this. Arlo, once he is by himself, really reminds me of Littlefoot from the first movie, and I know I won’t be the only one making comparisons between the two. That was one of the risks when they decided to age Arlo down to a young kid (in case you forgot, Arlo was originally supposed to be much older before the whole film went through a major rewrite).

Man, they’re almost unrecognizable.

Whether the change works out in the end is yet to be seen. But until then, I hope Pixar is prepared for the Land Before Time comparisons people will be spewing out.

From there we see Arlo meeting Spot the human boy, much like in the first trailer. We see them embark in some cute antics, such as Spot defending Arlo from that creepy snake creature, which we do get a better look at…

Holy crap!

The boy growls at the Tetrapodophis (look it up), only to return to a calm and adorable panting, further reinforcing the idea that this human kid is supposed to be like a dog.

One scene that did give me a good laugh was the moment where Spot blows into a hole in the ground in order to push out a small gopher-like creature. When Arlo does the same, dozens of gophers fly out of their holes at once, and then slowly begin to attack Arlo. His slow yet dramatic realization was perfect comic timing in my opinion.

Immediately afterwards, we see Arlo fearful of another storm, this time with Spot present. Perhaps this will a a recurring theme in the film; Arlo will be deathly afraid of storms since that was the reason he got separated from his family, and as the film progresses he not only has to confront that fear but also all the other dangers the world around him harbors. Seems like a very Pixar-ian message, wouldn’t you agree?

To me, personally, the most interesting part of the trailer is when they introduce the Tyrannosaur characters, whom I think we all assumed to be somewhat antagonistic. But to my surprise, it looks like they’re going to be full fledged good guys! They seem to be cattle ranchers, who drives herds of those long horned buffalo around. And of course, being ranchers, they have thick Southwest American accents. Anna Paquin voices the daughter tyrannosaur, obviously channeling her performance as Rogue. The father is voiced by the king of gravely voiced Southern drawl actors Sam Elliot, and just from that casting I already have a good idea of what kind of character this T. rex is going to be. Sam seems to always be cast as the rough and tumble hard working guy with a tough exterior but once you get to know him he offers sound advice and common wisdom. This goes double if he’s playing an animated character….

If you guys remember this character, I’m sorry.

Still, I think it’s really interesting that they’re going against the ever present cliche of having the tyrannosaurs as bad guys in a dinosaur film for kids. Heck, most of the time the carnivores don’t even talk! Five year old me would have loved this!

By the look of the trailer, it seems like the tyrannosaurs for some reason or another need Arlo to help them protect their herd of bison from cattle wranglers, who in this universe seem to be….raptors?

And look, we even have feathers!

Barely, but we have feathers!

Hey, it’s more effort than Jurassic World gave!

Until raptors look like barely threatening chickens, it’s never enough.

Filmmakers will never get the memo, will they?

We also get a good look at the ceratopsian character we got a glimpse of in the last trailer, and instead of being the wise eccentric like I predicted him to be, it looks like he’s just going to be eccentric. He carries a variety of animals on his horns, and I have a theory that he believes they give him protection, which is why he’s so adamant about acquiring this strange human creature Arlo hangs around with. The ceratopsian makes a deal that if he names the boy he keeps it, and the two start spouting out random names until the kid finally responds to Spot….for some reason.

The last scene of the trailer shows Arlo reminiscing about his family, frustrated that Spot wouldn’t be able to understand, only for Spot to nuzzle up to him like an adorable little puppy. At this point, it seems like Spot won’t be able to talk or communicate with Arlo at all, and it will all be conveyed with facial expressions and body language. They truly are portraying him like an animal, which I think is an interesting choice but certainly the right one for this movie.

‘As for my overall thoughts on the trailer, this one didn’t floor me like the last one, but it didn’t discourage me from watching the movie either. I’m really quite excited to see this, and I really hope it turns out good. I have a feeling it’s not going to be the giant crowd pleaser that Inside Out was, but it’ll probably be one of those films that holds a special place in the hearts of those who did enjoy it (ala Ratatouille). Looks like we’ll just have to wait and see…

Trailer reviews aren’t over yet. Another interesting preview dropped only yesterday that I feel deserves my attention. Although the franchise hasn’t pulled me in before, this new installment doesn’t seem like a far cry from the things I look at here….

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Well, this is happening (The Land Before Time 14: Journey of the Brave Trailer Review).

(This blog is not for profit. All copyrighted images belong to their respective owners and are used for review. New to the blog? Start on the introduction.)

https://whendinosaursruledthemind.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/introduction-remember-dinosaurs-theyre-different-now/

 

Guys, I’m speechless.

Seriously, I’m at a loss for words.

I don’t even know how to properly start this thing. I’ll try my best, but I don’t know.

Well, OK.

Yep, we’re getting another Land Before Time movie.

I’m not even sure how to react to this. Heck, for the longest time I didn’t even believe it. I thought the reason they stopped making Land Before Time movies was because Universal shut down their animation studios. So whenever I heard rumors or saw videos that reported that a new sequel was being made, I just chalked it up to some people getting faulty information from some Wikipedia or IMDB article. I didn’t think in a million years we would get another one of these films, and only a trailer would make me think otherwise.

And then I saw the trailer.

Oh crap. This….is actually happening.

In actuality, this is kind of old news, as the trailer came out a little more than a month ago, but I’ve only recently seen it and I’m willing to bet this is your first time hearing about it too. I am absolutely dumbfounded!

OK, so after fourteen movies spanning a period of nearly three decades, what could this movie possibly be about. Well, the basic formula for a Land Before Time sequel is for the main gang to come up with some reason to lead them out of the Great Valley into the Mysterious Beyond to have an adventure and probably get chased by Sharpteeth. Sure, different plot points and characters may mix things up a bit, but there will always be a moment where they go into the Mysterious Beyond and get chased by theropods. Always.

Except in the Seventh one, but that one had aliens or something so it kind of gets a pass.

So, judging by the trailer, it would seem that this movie is probably going to take a similar path. Although this time, the motivation seems to have something to do Littlefoot’s dad, who seems to be in trouble.

In case you don’t remember (or grew out of watching The Land Before Time before I did) Littlefoot was revealed to have a surviving father named  Bron (voiced surprisingly well by Keifer Sutherland) in the tenth installment (yes, tenth!) of the franchise. This was all the way back in 2003! 

It also seems like we’ll be getting an appearance from Chomper, who has been a recurring character from the franchise since all the way back to the second sequel, and Ruby the Oviraptor, who along with Chomper became a regular character in The Land Before Time TV series (which was also a thing in case you forgot). That show ended back in 2007.

So, with all the recurring characters from earlier installments of the franchise, this all got me thinking, who is this movie for? I mean, seriously! This movie is coming out nearly 10 years after the last installment of this franchise. Little kids today aren’t going to remember these characters from films that came out before they were born. People who grew up with the first movie have long lost interest, people who grew up with the sequels are too old as well, even kids who grew up with the TV series and where little kids then are now in no way in the intended age bracket.

Is this for the fans? I know The Land Before Time has a thriving online fan community who appreciates all the films as well as the TV show, but is that fanbase really big enough to make a movie for? Sure, they’re a sizable group, but they’re no bronies.

Any kid watching this with no knowledge of the other movies or TV series is going to go through continuity lockout, and I shouldn’t be saying that about a series of films for preschoolers, but that’s what happens when you make FOURTEEN goddamn films! The only way I can see this working is if Universal pushes the previous films and the TV  show on DVD by advertising them or putting them in the very front of DVD sections and then hoping that kids will beg their parents to by all thirteen of the previous movies or at the very least the parents who grew up with these films decided they want to share them with their kids.

You know what, that might actually work.

Anyway, what else is there to see in this trailer? Well, looks like we’ll be getting a new celebrity voiced guest character, this time in the form of a Pteranodon voiced by Reba McEntire.

And of course, she has a song.

To me, it’s just so jarring to hear such a recognizable voice come out of this character, even though I normally don’t have that much of a problem of celebrities doing voice over work (although I do greatly prefer professional VA’s). Heck, and her overbearingly Southern accent also just sounds funny to me as the voice of a prehistoric creature.

And strangely enough, Reba has voiced and sang as an anthropomorphic character in a Direct to DVD sequel of a much better animated movie before.

Dixie from The Fox and the Hound 2. I’ve seen way too many mediocre DTV kids films.

However, I think one of the more interesting things about the trailer is the moment they show off the Sharptooth of the film. These movies always like to mix up what kind of predators will be chasing the Gang of Five, and this time they appear to be Yutyrannus.

Woah, are these feathers on a large theropod dinosaur that I see?

I actually find this pretty exciting. I’ve waited for so long to see large fluffy theropods in mainstream media, and I’m glad The Land Before Time decided to step it up. I’ve noticed a lot of the newer LBT movies would add more recent discoveries when they portray the dinosaurs, but you also remember that these films have been made in an almost 30 year period, and that is thirty years of many major paleontology discoveries, some of which changed literally everything we thought we knew about dinosaurs. This leads to a world that has Charles Knight/Dinosaur Renaissance dinos from the 80’s, more realistically proportioned dinosaurs from the 90’s, and even feathered dinosaurs from the 2000’s. Sure, we may have a fully feathered carcharodontosaur, but in this universe the raptors still look like this…

…and the Triceratops still look like this.

What a strange hodgepodge mess of a world they created.

So, in the end, what do I think of this movie? Well first off I do believe it is completely unnecessary to make a new one. The kids who grew up with these movies are far too old now to enjoy them, and I think they’re going to have a hard time finding any current 4 year old who has seen all thirteen of the previous films and the TV series. But it doesn’t matter. They’re making it, it’s happening. The movie will probably be mediocre at best, and I think it’s better to just leave it at that.

Although it does bring up one good question, how ticked off do you think Don Bluth is that Universal is still making money off of a movie he made 30 years ago?

 

My baby! What are you doing to my baby?!

The Good Dinosaur Official Trailer Review

(This blog is not for profit. All copyrighted images belong to their respective owners and are used for review. New to the blog? Start on the introduction.)

https://whendinosaursruledthemind.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/introduction-remember-dinosaurs-theyre-different-now/

 

When the teaser trailer of this movie first came out, I will admit that although I was intrigued, the whole thing didn’t really grab me. But I didn’t really expect it to. I knew it was just a teaser trailer and that it was just going to show minimal stuff so the audience has a basic concept of what the movie was about. But then I have to remember that the teaser for Disney’s Zootopia that came out not too long ago grabbed me immediately.

Of course, being a closet furry probably did help.

But then I have to remember that none of the trailers for Inside Out really grabbed me either, and that movie is being hailed as one of Pixar’s best films in years.

I still haven’t seen it so no spoilers.

All in all, I knew I just needed to wait for what the next trailer brought us. And now that it is here, what do I think of it?

I can honestly say that I am very excited for this movie.

This new trailer just hit all the right notes for me. It delivered on an emotional level, a visual level, and surprisingly on a musical level. It conveyed so much with so little dialogue, and a lot of the problems I did have with the first trailer are pretty much gone now. With that being said, I think it’s time we look a little bit deeper.

basicallyanimation:

Pixar’s ‘The Good Dinosaur’ Official Trailer

The trailer begins with some shots of clouds in the sky and foliage in the rain. And just one second in, I realize, this movie is gorgeous. Like, really incredibly beautiful. The CGI is fantastic, and it seems like the Internet agrees. And after the whole ‘Jurassic World fake looking CGI’ fiasco and the internet as a whole hating on computer animation, that is an incredible thing to see. Even I thought that CGI has reached it’s peak, and I genuinely believed I would never again be blown away by computer animation. Even with the newest Dreamworks animated movies, I’ll go ‘Yeah, the animation’s good, but it doesn’t wow me’. Because we see competent animation across all the studios, we’ve began to feel that good animation is nothing more than standard animation. I even thought Pixar fell into this trap. With so many animation studios right now producing quality work, and with Disney seemingly beating Pixar at it’s own game with both great CG and great films while Pixar seemed to slip into a lull, I started to wonder if Pixar could really fill out a niche for themselves again. With all these companies making good CGI films, can Pixar really stand out on it’s own anymore? But this trailer once again proved to me why we call Pixar the masters of computer animation.

After a retread of the asteroid missing the earth scene from the first trailer, and another breathtaking moment with a photo realistic lizard passing by the forest floor, we get a look at Arlo, our sauropod main character.

One of the biggest complaints I do see about this movie is the fact that the dinosaurs look incredibly cartoony, and this is especially noticeable when this trailer shows off it’s incredibly realistic backgrounds. Like I said before, the stylistic choice doesn’t bother me, as I much rather have a unique style in CGI as opposed to the characters trying to be too realistic, which may cause the film to look too generic. It also reminds me of the dinosaur anime film You Are Umasou, which used dinosaur characters drawn with simple geometric shapes while the background was incredibly detailed, and if you read my review of that film you can tell I liked that art direction a lot. Still, I can understand why this might be a problem for some, and the movie may have worked if the dinosaur anatomy was a bit more realistic but the eyes and facial expressions were still expressively cartoony.

You know, like a certain other film I know.

Anyway, we see Arlo as he tries to survive in the wilderness, presumably separated from his family. As he tries to reach some berries high up in a tree, he slips on a rock and falls. He grunts as he does so, and this is when we realize that he is really just a kid. In case you didn’t know, Arlo’s original voice actor was Lucas Neff, who is an adult. You can even hear some of his voice in the original trailer (although it’s only composed of a single wail, so it’s kind of hard to tell if it’s a different voice or not). But the voice has been replaced by child actor Raymond Ochoa.

Like I said in my review of the first trailer, this movie had kind of a turbulent production, and the original director stepped down and the film was taken over by another. With that, the film was completely reworked and re-imagined, and one of the major changes was aging down the character of Arlo to make the film a ‘growing up’ sort of story. Now, you can tell that this was a fairly recent change as a lot of the concept art and even some fully rendered images showed Arlo as a much older looking character.

With that kid in for scale compared to how we see him in this trailer, you can tell that Arlo was supposed to be at one point a full sized dinosaur, but this trailer shows him to be much smaller. Now, making him a kid is going to bring in one unintended consequence.

Littlefoot comparisons.

Fan fic writers, I demand a crossover fic started immediately with a slash fic in progress soon after.

Already on the slash fic, sir.

good…..

The original idea for the movie also had a lot more characters, including a huge family for Arlo with characters voiced by John Lithgow, Frances McDormand, Neil Patrick Harris, Judy Greer, and Bill Hader. Of that cast, only Frances McDormand (Arlo’s mother) remains. John Lithgow (Arlo’s father) was recast while Neil’s, Judy’s, and Bill’s characters were scrapped completely (the major cast change may be one of the reasons there is very little dialogue in this trailer). They were also supposed to live sort of like Amish farmers, but that idea was scrapped too.

Now, I remember the last time a Pixar movie went through this much behind the scenes drama, the film that resulted wasn’t exactly the gold standard.

It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad. It was just kind of ‘eh’.

Brave was a movie that stunk of too many people with too many ideas trying to make a coherent movie, and that film went through a of of rewrites and direction changes as well. I sincerely hope this movie doesn’t turn out to be a jumbled mess, but it seems to be telling a much simpler story than Brave, and in the end that just might save it.

OK, let’s get back to the positive.

We get our first look at the human boy (who also looks different from his original rendering) who is apparently named Spot. In the trailer he gives Arlo the berries he was trying so hard to get before. Whether or not it plays out like this in the final film is yet to be seen.

Now, Spot’s inclusion in the story does already raise a few questions. I already saw in the comment section of the trailer some butthurt internet guys complaining how dinosaurs and people never lived together, apparently missing the part of the last trailer that showed this was a hypothetical world where dinosaurs never went extinct. But with that being said, does that mean we will see more humans in this movie? Where are the kid’s parents? How long have humans been around? Has there been dinosaur/human interaction before this? The dinosaurs are implied to have become sentient and can communicate beyond the ‘animal speak’ we normally see in cartoons. Does this mean the humans and dinosaurs would be able to communicate with each other? Will Arlo and Spot be able to communicate with each other? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

We then get some shots of Arlo wandering through the wilderness until he meets up with Spot once again. The trailer fades to black, and we hear Arlo tentatively say ‘hello?’

We then get some more shots of the movie with each moment fading to black as intense drums build up the atmosphere. We see the bison from the first trailer again, and I have an interesting theory about them that I’ll discuss later. We also see some cute little shrew like animals that wouldn’t look out of place in the Mesozoic, but I think the most interesting creature we see in this little transition is this.

We get a look at some sort of ceratopsian of indeterminate species. It has the frill of a Styracosaurus and the horns of a Triceratops. Heck, it honestly looks like those Triceratops’ from Ark: Survival Evolved.

I would love to talk about this game, but I fear by the time I get to it it’ll no longer be relevant.

Heck, it even reminds me of the Styracosaurus from that one cartoon Dino Squad.

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it before. It was terrible.

Overall, the design is cool, even if those forward facing eyes are a bit on the unnerving side (ceratopsians eyes were on the sides of their head, not on the frill). It’s horns seem to be covered in an assortment of strange mammals and birds, which does remind me of another Disney moment….

….keeps great and small, on the endless round….

As the drums continue to build, we see Arlo entertaining Spot with some fireflies in a beautifully animated sequence. This is also the part when we get the song of the trailer: Crystals by Of Monsters and Men. Here is the full song on their Vevo.

Now, it’s been kind of a trend to put these alternative songs on trailers for animated movies that want to be taken a bit more seriously (heck, both How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Guardians: Owls of Gahoole used Kings and Queens by 30 Seconds to Mars). I know there will be some who don’t like this particular style of music and find it to be a cheap gimmick to make trailers seem grander than what they are, and I can see that. Music is subjective after all. But I’m not one of those people. I absolutely loved the song they used. It completely complimented the visuals and really enhanced the whole experience. It literally gave me goosebumps.

We also get a look at this strange creature here. It looks like some strange mix of viper and a lizard. Hmm, it looks like evolution would make some strange choices if dinosaurs never went extinct.

Even though Arlo is obviously terrified by this abomination from the Avatar world (Heck, I could be referring to the James Cameron film and the Nickelodeon cartoon and the joke would still work), it would seem Spot is willing to stand his ground, almost like a guard dog protecting his master.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that this film is playing with the ‘a boy and his pet’ storyline by having the human be the dog and the dinosaur be the boy. Even though it’s just a flip of a familiar plot line, I actually believe it brings an interesting dynamic to the film. It can play out like a boy and his dog story, but since both parties are potentially sentient there is potential for an even closer bond to form.

Now this is one of my favorite moments from the trailer. It’s short, but I think it’s just absolutely gorgeous. The lighting, the animation, the way it pairs perfectly with the music, it’s just flawless. It even gives insight at the characters relationship with each other, with the two just having fun running through a flock of birds. Man, it’s been so long since I’ve been floored by computer animation.

After some more bonding moments with the fireflies (man, these scenes just really show how good the lighting in this movie is!), we get this moment in what looks like a geyser field.

It has been pointed out that this environment looks very similar to ones found in Yellowstone, and in reality the whole movie looks like something out of Yellowstone National Park or Alaska. In fact, the whole environment seems very Ice Age-ish, which is a refreshing and interesting choice for a dinosaur film.

We also see that the characters are being chased by a flock of pterosaurs, which we also see later in the trailer. It seems to confirm that the pterodactlys seen in the first trailer are actually antagonists, and one of them is voiced by Steve Zahn. Which is weird, since when I heard Steve Zahn was cast I thought he would be a comical character, but I guess we’ll wait and see how that plays out.

Oh yeah, they’e also shown with inaccurate eagles talons as expected, but who knows, maybe after sixty five million years pterosaurs evolved grasping foot claws to compete with the ever growing bird population. That’s not too far fetched is it?

 

We also see the tyrannosaurs again, whom also have a confirmed cast (Sam Elliot will voice one named Butch, A.J. Buckley will voice his son Nash, and Anna Paquin will voice his daughter Ramsey). With a cast like that I can’t imagine them being full on antagonists, perhaps they’ll be obstacles but I don’t see them being full on sinister. On a side note, I have a theory on them and the bison. I believe the tyrannosaurs actually raise them or food, which keeps in line with the idea that the dinosaurs have become farmers.

 

And here we have Spot biting Arlo for some reason in front of the bison. As adorable as it is, it does remind me of this.

I told you the Littlefoot comparisons will come.

The trailer continues to show us a couple more scenes, such as one with Arlo going down a river kind of like how we saw in the first trailer, before showing us this adorable scene with Arlo and Spot playing together. We cut to the title card, before ending with Spot howling to the moon as Arlo tentatively joins in.

This trailer….

…just…

Wow, this trailer!

This trailer greatly exceeded my expectations, and hit all the emotional beats I didn’t even know I wanted! The animation is incredible, the music choice was spot on, and the emotion just hits hard. You can tell this is going to be a heartwarming and possibly heartbreaking film. I was certainly interested when I saw the teaser, but now you can call me genuinely excited!

Next time, after a good couple months of neglect, I finally get back to my Jurassic Park toy reviews. This time I’ll be talking about Jurassic Park 3.

Spinosaurus, Spinosaurus everywhere….

When Dinosaurs Ruled The Mind #64: We’re Back : A Dinosaur Story Mini Review

(This blog is not for profit. All copyrighted images belong to their respective owners and are used for review. New to the blog? Start on the introduction.)

https://whendinosaursruledthemind.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/introduction-remember-dinosaurs-theyre-different-now/

We're Back! Movie Poster.jpg

 

“This is The Land Before Time on crystal meth.”

Doug Walker, Nostalgia Critic “We’re Back : A Dinosaur Story” Review

This movie.

Just…this movie.

I don’t even know where to start.

As a kid from the nineties….OK, let’s not kind ourselves. Late nineties. I was four in 2000.

Anyway, the nineties was an excellent time for traditional animation. It was before the era of Shrek and every animated kids film was a computer animated pop culture referencing fest. The nineties was the pinnacle of the traditional animation art form in the States, were multiple companies began producing high quality animated films for kids. Disney started this trend when they reinvigorated their animation studios and produced such classics as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King and so on. Wanting to replicate their success, many other studios began upping their game in animation as well. 2oth Century Fox gave us Anastasia, Warner Brothers gave us the Iron Giant, Dreamworks gave us The Prince of Egypt; all these films were at the top of their game animation wise. We may never see this much great traditional animation in the mainstream theaters ever again.

Another animation studio that cropped up around this time to compete with Disney was Amblimation, an animation division under Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. The studio released a couple pretty good efforts including the American Tail sequel Fievel Goes West and later the film Balto. Both movies were decent, and both had top notch animation. But the other film by this studio is the one we will be discussing today: We’re Back : A Dinosaur Story.

For me personally, this is an odd film to talk about. I’m going to be honest, I’m not exactly sure what to think about this film. The animation is top notch and the voice acting is pretty good, but the film’s tone is all over the place and the story is s bit of a mess. Sometimes I think the movie is just way too overly cutesy, yet there’s also a bit of charm and likability to it’s innocence. But in other ways the film makes no sense and barely makes a coherent narrative.

Let me explain.

The basic plot of the movie is that a group of dinosaurs are given human like intelligence from an alien and a futuristic human inventor by way of ‘Brain Gain’ cereal (yes, cereal, as in the stuff you put in a bowl and eat with a spoon). This inventor guy has a machine that can read the wishes of children and decides to bring back the dinosaurs to fulfill the wants of kids who wish they could see dinosaurs in real life. He takes the dinosaurs to modern New York where they meet a runaway little boy and a neglected rich girl who are off to join the circus, which happens to be run by the inventor’s evil brother Screw Eyes, who uses the circus for his own nefarious purposes, and plans to use the dinosaurs themselves as attractions.

Yeah, most family films have pretty straightforward plots so that everyone in the audience will be able to follow no matter the age, but jeez. this movie expects you to take in a lot. Talking dinosaurs, aliens, cereal that makes you anthropomorphic, wish machines, evil circus people, I just wanted to see a cartoon with dinosaurs dammit!!!

OK then, that didn’t really clear anything up. Let’s just look at the characters.

First we’ve got the creatively named Rex, a Tyrannosaurus voiced by John Goodman.

Next up we have a horrifically inaccurate bat winged dragon tailed pterodactyl named Elsa.

No relation.

We’ve also got a….Parasaurolophus? I don’t know, a hadrosaur of some kind, named Dweeb and voiced by Charles Fleischer.

Yep, that Charles Fleischer.

 

And finally we’ve got Woog, a Triceratops who sounds like a jazz singer for some reason and also likes to eat hot dogs…for some reason….

BTW, I don’t really buy the ‘Triceratops was omnivorous’ hypothesis.

There’s not really much to say about the dinosaur characters. They’re cute…I guess…and they serve their narrative purpose but they lack real personality. Rex and Elsa are just generically nice. Dweeb is supposed to be dumb…I think, the rest of the dinosaurs aren’t really up their IQ wise either, and I think Woog’s only personality quirk is that he’s black. Rex and Elsa are the only ones that really carry the movie forward (and I say that very loosely), Woog and Dweeb only serve as comic relief and they could be taken out of the movie without any narrative consequence.

So, with that being said, why is it that in the end I still kind of like these guys?

OK, OK, moving on. We’ve also got these two kid characters that tag along with the dinosaurs. First we have Louis, a walking New York stereotype (or accurate depiction depending on who you ask) who is running away from home because apparently his mother kisses him in public.

We’ve also got Cecilla, a rich girl who has been neglected by her family and forced to stay in her big empty mansion all by herself. She is Louis’ forced love interest and is often drawn way too sexy for an eight year old. Ughh, just makes me uncomfortable. Oh yeah, she’s also voiced by Yeardley Smith, and it’s kind of distracting.

Yep, this Yeardley Smith.

 

And then we’ve got this guy, Captain Neweyes, the brains behind this establishment. He’s from the future wear apparently all the races in all the universe have learned to get along. He travels in a time traveling space ship with his alien friend Vorb (voiced by Jay Leno).

The less we talk about him the better.

Neweyes also has a machine that can detect the wishes of people, specifically children because they ‘wish the loudest’. Thus he uses his ability to control time and space to grant these kids their wishes, and what wishes does he decide to make true?

I wish mom and dad would stop fighting.

No.

I wish we had enough money to buy food.

Not yet.

I wish I got to tell grandma I loved her before she died.

Not even close.

I wish I can see dinosaurs!!!

There you go.

Yep, with the infinite god like power this man has, and his apparent ability to see the wishes of real people across all space and time, he decides his priorities lie with the kids who want to see dinosaurs. Granted, he could have used his abilities to grant more meaningful requests before, but he specifically mentions that this particular wish of kids wanting to see dinosaurs is one of the loudest he’d ever heard. Really, more kids wish they can see dinosaurs more than anyone else? I mean sure, that’s what I was wishing for as a kid, but that’s because I had a pretty good childhood. A lot of kids aren’t so lucky. Man, this sort of makes me mad the more I analyze it. Heck, we even hear more meaningful wishes in the montage. We see a girl who wishes her sister would be nice to her, and Rex only agrees to go when he sees a kid wishing he weren’t so lonely (who turns out to be Louis). Man, Rex has his priorities down much better than Neweyes, and he’s only had his cognitive ability for like 5 minutes!

On the other hand, it is implied that all those wishes we hear in that montage are actually granted by the mere presence of the dinosaurs in the city, so maybe Neweyes has things covered a bit more than he lets on, but it’s still pretty jarring to hear some pretty serious wishes on the machine suddenly drowned out by a bunch of kids wanting to see dinosaurs.

Really, THAT many kids wanted to see dinosaurs that it drowned out all other wishes?

Then again, it was 1993…

…and this movie had just came out.

And here we’ve got the villain of the movie, Professor Screweyes, Neweyes’ brother. He sets up this ‘circus of evil’ type show that is designed to scare people instead of entertain. Thew film treats this as some weird thing, with the characters wondering why anyone would willingly want to be scared. Yeah, I know right? It’s not like scaring people is a multi million dollar business or anything.

Isn’t that right, Spielberg?

In all honesty though, Screweyes is a pretty effective villain, and is probably the coolest part of the movie. His evil plot may be just a bit contrived however. In the film, the kids plan on running away to a circus, and they decided to choose the circus of this upstanding gentleman.

Because he looks like a trustworthy guy, doesn’t he?

They sign a contract and basically sell their souls to them, but then the dinosaurs intervene having remembered that Neweyes told them that Screweyes was not to be trusted. When Screweyes sees the dinosaurs, he puts two and two together and realizes that his brother is behind the whole thing. He says that the children are his now, and feeds them a pill that does the opposite of what the cereal Neweyes gave the dinosaurs, turning the children into apes. He plans to parade them as freaks, and the only way to save them is for the dinos to take their place and forfeit their intelligence. Being the good guys, they agree. The kids are set free, and the dinosaurs return to their prehistoric savage state. But this turn of events has an unforeseen side effect. You take away Rex’s humanity, and he remembers he’s a monstrous killing machine.

Oh yeah, I forgot. I’m bad@$$!

Yep, didn’t think this through did yah?

But of course, Louis talks Rex out of it, and it turns out the way to bring the dinosaurs back to their friendly selves is too…..no, I can’t……I just can’t.

They bring them back to normal by hugging them.

And it’s just as stupid as you would imagine.

Perhaps even stupider.

So yeah, we get our happy ending. The dinosaurs make it to a museum so they can entertain kids, Louis and Cecilia make up with their parents and…kiss?

Come on guys, really? They’re children!

But wait, what about Screweyes? What happens to him?

Well, the most randomly scary thing ever shown in a kid cartoon happens. At this point everyone has abandoned Screweyes, leaving him alone in the dark circus tend. He begins to lament how that when he has no one to scare, he himself can become scared as well. Then a bunch of random crows start circling him, and then suddenly all engulf him at once.

He body is completely covered in crows, and after a moment, they all fly off, with nothing of Screwyes left over except a single screw. Some smoke begins to emerge from the screw (is it his soul or something?) but a crow quickly blows it out and takes it away.

No set up, no explanation, no reason whatsoever for the crows to attack him like that. It just happens.

And it scared the crap out of me as a kid.

Now, I know that there is a deleted scene that explains that it was a crow that took out Screweye’s….eye, and that is why he has a screw in his….eye….what was he called before that? But it still doesn’t make up for the fact that this scene was completely out of the blue and unexpectedly scary.

So, what is the final verdict?

There is so much wrong with this movie. The story is all over the place, the characters aren’t exactly memorable in terms of personality, it has a lot of unfortunate implications, and the entire thing just wreaks of cutesyness and sappiness.

Yet, there’s a lot I really like too.

The characters, although one dimensional, have a lot of appealing innocence. The story may be a bit too black and white, but it also has this really appealing optimism. The voice acting is good, and the animation is fantastic, if not a bit too hyperactive. This movie is really tough to gauge for me.

As a story, it fails on a lot of fronts. It’s not very coherent and it has difficulty finding the right tone. Is this a little kid’s flick? Is it for older children? Families? I don’t really know. But it’s also very sweet and good natured, and as a kids film it’s in my opinion fairly decent. Not one of the greats, but it’s perfectly harmless to show to children. I can think of films much worse than this to show kids.

Oh God, no!

It really depends on your personal tastes as to whether you will like this movie. Heck, even I’m torn on it. There is some good stuff here, but there is also stuff I really don’t like. In the end, I rate this movie an….

….eh.

Thank you guys so much for being patient. I know I’ve been inactive for a long time and this thing should have been out WAAAAY before now. But I’m back (I hope) and plan on being here for much longer. My next major project will be continuing my look at the Jurassic Park toys, but first there’s a certain new Pixar movie trailer I have to review…..

Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur Teaser Trailer Review

(This blog is not for profit. All copyrighted images belong to their respective owners and are used for review. New to the blog? Start on the introduction.)

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Two dinosaur movies coming out in the same year? Is it just me or do I sense a rise in popularity for dinosaurs on the horizon?

Anyway, this teaser marks our first good look at the film, which has been going through a bit of development hell and behind the scenes drama. The film has been in development since at least 2009, and it was supposed to be released in late 2013. That release date was eventually given to Frozen, and it was pushed back to Spring 2014. Then, it was pushed back all the way to November 2015!!! Details are sketchy, but apparently the original director had a hard time with his vision of the film and eventually he just had to back away from the project. Or he was told to get lost. Like I said, details are sketchy. However it went down, the entire film was basically restarted from scratch. And now finally, after so many delays, we get a good look at the visual aesthetic of this movie in motion.

The trailer starts in space, with the infamous asteroid that ended the reign of dinosaurs barreling towards an inaccurate depiction of Earth 65 million years ago (but I’m glad they at least changed the continents a bit and didn’t just copy and paste a modern earth in the sequence).  And this is where we get our first look at the dinosaurs.

Oh, so it’s going to be that kind of movie.

Upright kangaroo hadrosaurs? Hump backed sauropods with swan necks? Do you know what this means?

Yes, we’re getting dinosaurs right out of Sinclair’s 1960’s World’s Fair Dinosaur models. Those gloriously retro and nostalgic yet nauseatingly inaccurate depictions will never go away will they (well, what was I expecting from a film being made by a bunch of middle aged toy collectors?).

Anyway, the trailer ponders the question of what would happen if the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs didn’t hit the earth as we see the celestial object just fly by the planet harmlessly while only garnering the momentary attention of the grazing dinosaurs. We then cut into a few snipets of the film, at first seeing a shot of pterosaurs flying over a forest (is it just me or do I see a Nyctosaurus in that flock?) We then see something that really caught me off guard.

It’s a T. rex….running with bison.

What?

You know what, this actually makes sense. I’ve heard theories that even if the asteroid didn’t hit the earth dinosaurs may have still gone extinct due to other factors (volcanoes and climate change being among those). However, it is just as likely that dinosaurs as a group would have survived those trying circumstances (much like they survived the end of the Triassic and end of the Jurassic mass extinctions) but many of the larger dinosaurs would have still been wiped out. This would lead to a world which both dinosaurs and mammals took over the open ecological niches and eventually a world where both large dinosaurs and mammals coexisted. This kind of world also leaves it open for humans to appear, since mammals could still take advantage of the trees and eventually produce primates and eventually humans. Wow, this movie is going in deeper than I thought!

Of course, this theory only holds true if large dinosaurs like sauropods and tyrannosaurs did go extinct in the climate change, and such dinosaurs seem to be main characters in the movie….

Nah, I don’t care. Still keeping with this theory.

Another thing to note is that the bison seen in this snipet don’t seem to be modern plains bison, but instead Bison latifrons, the Giant Bison or the Long Horned Bison, which lived during the Ice Age.

Well, that’s certainly interesting.

Here’s a look at some Tyrannosaurs from the film, and yeah, I think this pretty much gives away the whole visual aesthetic. Those of you looking for some realistic dinosaurs may want to continue your search somewhere else. Heck, the one on the right looks like a slightly more ferocious version of Barney! The dinosaurs from Ice Age 3 looked more realistic than this!

 

Wow, that actually isn’t an exaggeration.

But is it crazy that I’m totally fine with this cartoony look?

I’m sure a lot of people were hoping for a more realistic and accurate visual style, and I can certainly understand why. But a more realistic take holds the risk of your movie looking generic. This movie does have a unique style, and an animated film having it;s own distinct style is actually quite rare these days. ESPECIALLY in CGI. Heck, one of the major complaints of the 2000 Disney Dinosaur film was the fact that it looked so bland and generic.

Those unnatural uncanny valley human lips probably didn’t help matter either.

Here we get our first look at the main character Arlo, a young sauropod, and his baby human friend Spot. We’ve seen some promotional art work of these guys before so I knew the visual style in this film was not going to be on the realistic side.

Yet, despite the cartoonish look of the main characters, the backgrounds seem to evoke something else entirely. From what I could see in this trailer and the production art work I could find, the environment this movie takes place in is very different than the habitat movies usually have dinosaurs featured in. Most dinosaur films show the creatures inhabiting a jungle like environment, or perhaps a swampy habitat akin to Florida, or at least a savanna. In other words, very hot and usually humid ecosystems, and the beginning scene of the trailer set in prehistoric times reflects that. But the backdrop later looks very temperate, with pine trees and snow capped mountains and an overall very chilly feel. Heck, it almost looks like Alaska! I applaud the film makers choosing a different location to put their dinosaur characters in, as a tundra landscape is much more interesting than a generic jungle.

The backgrounds are also much more detailed than the dinosaurs. While the environment is very photo realistic, the characters are much more cartoony and stick out like a sore thumb. It kind of reminds me of…

OMG YES!

So, what do I think of this first trailer. Personally, despite the childish designs, inaccurate dinosaur depictions, and messy behind the scenes drama, I’m really excited for this movie. I’m certainly going to keep an eye on it for the time being, and I eagerly await more footage to surface. And with the movie coming out only a few months later this year, I’m sure we’ll be getting more soon.

 

When Dinosaurs Ruled The Mind #63: Dink The Little Dinosaur Mini Review

(This blog is not for profit. All copyrighted images belong to their respective owners and are used for review. New to the blog? Start on the introduction.)

https://whendinosaursruledthemind.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/introduction-remember-dinosaurs-theyre-different-now/

 

80’s cartoons were terrible.

Yeah I said it.

They were all glorified toy commercials with limited animation, inconsistent voice work, over the top cheesiness and the same freaking episode plots in every single show!!!!

But what about Transformers? 

Barely watchable.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

An unashamed product of it’s time.

Thundercats?

One word. Snarf.

OK, OK, I’m being over dramatic. Not all 80’s cartoons were terrible, and many of them did give us characters that went on to be iconic (I will say that I much prefer later incarnations of the Transformers, TMNT, and Thundercats however). But a lot of cartoons at the time did share many of the same problems. I think the biggest problem with cartoons from the time is that they’re all pretty creatively bankrupt. Sure, they gave us interesting set ups for stories and created worlds and characters that became infamous, but the actual stories they told with these worlds and characters were so incredibly generic. It all looked cool on paper, but in execution nobody seemed to know what they were doing. But that doesn’t matter, because all they had to do was sell toys. So what if the cartoon Cobra Commander is laughably nonthreatening, his action figure is still cool!

But even with all that in mind, nothing compares to the utter lack of originality that this particular show boasts. During the eighties, there was quite the resurgence of dinosaur related children’s media. There were a few animated shows like Dino-Saucers and Dino-Riders, which once again were made to sell toys.

But the most famous animated piece of dinosaur media as well as the least toyetic one of the time was the Don Bluth classic The Land Before Time.

Unfortunately, we aren’t talking about that today. In the words of our Lord and savior JonTron, “With every big fish, there’s a leech on the belly”.

For you to grasp the full meaning of what I am about to say, I advise you click that link. But be warned, what you see may shock and appall you.

So, yeah, doesn’t this look familiar.

Dink the Little Dinosaur was a somewhat short lived animated series that aired from 1989 to 1991. May I remind you that the Land Before Time came out in 1988. Like I said before, lots of dinosaur related media came out during this time, but this show is more than just another random dinosaur cartoon. No person with a sane mind can deny this is a blatant rip off of The Land Before Time.

First we’ve got Dink, and adventurous little Apatosaurus who is the de facto leader of the group. He is kind, brave, and always thinks about his friends.

Hmm, never seen that before….

Oh great, we’re already to a good start.

None of the other characters are quite as blatantly ripped off from The Land Before Time characters as Dink is to Littlefoot, but they all have their parallels.

Dink’s closest friend is Amber, a Corythosaurus whose color scheme does bring to mind Cera’s.

Personality wise, there’s not much comparison. Cera is more bull head while Amber is a much more level thinker. However, like Little Foot and Cera, Amber is paired with Dink most often. not only that, but they also share something that is a little more meta.

A voice actor.

Anndi McAfee voiced Amber, but then later went on to voice Cera in nearly all the sequels.

OK, that one probably is. But wait till you some of the other stuff.

Next we’ve got Shyler, a green Edaphosaurus who is the youngest member of the group. He often gets his words mixed up and is the most overly cutsy member of the bunch. Pretty much a dead on stand in for Ducky, except worse.

Then we’ve got Flapper, and really, the couldn’t be more obvious.

But strangely enough, Flapper isn’t the Petrie of the group. No, the role of annoying tiny character with a lisp in his voice that speaks in broken English goes to Scat, a dinosaur that I can’t identify at all.

It’s like a midget Wally Gator.

I said in my Land Before Time review that I don’t find Petrie as annoying as some other people do. But if you can’t stand Petrie, then you’re going to find Scat insufferable. He is this show’s Snarff, their Scrappy. I think they named him Scat because they knew how crappy the character was.

Also like The Land Before Time, the show refers to different dinosaur species in cute baby names instead of their actual species. At least they have the decency to use different ones (for the most part).

You know, even despite all that, the show wasn’t absolutely terrible. I will admit the some of the episodes did involve conflicts a little bit different than other cartoons at the time, but for the most part the series is boringly generic. The only thing that truly disappoints me is that they decided to go for a full on Land Before Time rip off. They could have still made a cartoon about dinosaurs and not succumb to so much obvious plagiarism, but the fact that they did deeply saddens me. I can’t look at this show without thinking about that, and perhaps that is it’s biggest downfall.

Join me next time as I do a mini review of a movie that’s equally weird but boasts a lot more creativity, We’re Back : A Dinosaur Story.

 

When Dinosaurs Ruled The Mind #56: You Are Umasou (Movie Review)

(This blog is not for profit. All copyrighted images belong to their respective owners and are used for review. New to the blog? Start on the introduction.)

https://whendinosaursruledthemind.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/introduction-remember-dinosaurs-theyre-different-now/

Alright Internet, you ready for the biggest bombshell of your entire life?

Are you sure?

I don’t think you are.

OK, I guess I’ll go ahead and spill it.

….

….

….

I don’t like anime.

KILL HIM!

WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT!!!!!

Let me rephrase that.

I have nothing against anime nor the people who watch it. In fact, I’ll go on record that a lot of anime is absolutely amazing. It’s just, I could never really get into it. Whenever I try to watch anime, I always feel like there is something I’m missing. It’s kind of like the feeling I’m not in on a joke, and it really inhibits my enjoyment. Even Miyazaki films that are critically acclaimed and beloved worldwide just confuse the heck out of me.

I don’t know what I’m looking at!

Perhaps it’s just the ignorant idiotic burger eating American in me, and feel free to call me an idiot in the comment section. I am, however, a huge fan of Western Animation. Many hardcore anime fans (I don’t want to label an entire fandom, I’m talking about douche-bag extremists here) label western animation as nothing more than kid’s stuff, which I’m going to have to argue against. Yes, American animation is over-saturated with less then stellar content, but that shouldn’t take away from the really good stuff either; series that break the mold of expectations and cover a wide variety of genres.

Comedy…

…adventure…

…action…

…drama…

…mystery…

…all of the above.

No joke.

However, one thing I really respect about Anime is the fact that Japan doesn’t fall victim to the Animation Ghetto. Here in America, animation is usually thought of as kid’s entertainment and can’t be enjoyed by adults. Even though their is an older audience to all of the shows mentioned above, their is still a sort of stigma of adults watching cartoons. Even though the above series are really good and can be enjoyed by people of all ages, the fact that they’re animated turn people away before they even give them a chance. Japan, on the other hand, takes full advantage of the animation medium and uses it more to create worlds that would be impossible to depict in live action. As an art form I think Japan has perfected traditional animation, and I sorely wish America had their attitude on the medium.

Despite all of this, however, I still just can’t get into anime.

Maybe it just doesn’t have enough dinosaurs.

OMG I would be all over that!

Thankfully, this movie rectifies that situation.

One thing Japan also does…

…right?…

…is the way it directs it’s kids movies. In American film, movies that are made specifically for kids have the moral guardians breathing down their necks keeping them from directly referencing or dealing with harder subjects, even if the film warrants these themes. Japan seems to have no such problem, leading to much more complex themes in kids movies. However, this freedom of creative expression can lead to some sudden and unexpected leaps of tone, which can be quite jarring to Western viewers.

Look how cute this is! Probably going to be a lighthearted children’s film.

This is the same lamb on the poster. He has grown up into a monster and ends up dying alone because of his lust for vengeance.

The film I’m looking at today, however, doesn’t shift in tone as greatly as some other films in the media have, but it still deals with stuff animation for kids in America wouldn’t touch with a ten foot poll. And for that reason and many more I absolutely love this movie.

The movie begins with a mother Maiasaura finding a lost egg in the river and bringing it back to her nest. Now before I go any further, I should point out that the dinosaurs in this movie are very stylized, to the point that they sometimes don’t even look like dinosaurs anymore. The Maiasaurs, for example, almost look like dinosaur/human hybrids. They have body proportions similar to a human, and when they move on two legs they walk upright like a human. Do I have a problem with this? No, since I can totally see they were going for a certain artistic style. But for that reason, I won’t really go into scientific accuracy much on this movie.

The dinosaur designs themselves are very simple and minimalist, but the animation is incredibly good. It’s really colorful and fluid, and a lot of the backgrounds are amazingly detailed. Japan has created some of the best animation I have ever seen, and it really pains me that America doesn’t take this craft seriously anymore.

Anyway, the mother Maiasaura protects her eggs from the elements, including a dangerous storm and a flock of hungry Troodon.

Yeah, feathers!

 The Troodon eat and smash a lot of the eggs, and the mother is left with only two, one of which is the egg she found in the river. That night, she prays to Egg Mountain, a volcano that suspiciously looks like an egg (um, OK) and asks for it to protect her offspring. This becomes horrifically ironic when later events of the film come to play.

The next day, the eggs hatch and the mother is surprised that one of them isn’t a Maiasaur, but a T. rex. The male leader of the herd sees the baby predator, and without hesitation tries to kill it. The mother tries to protect the baby, but the leader says bluntly that when this creature grows up, it will kill their kind. One thing that separates this movie from any American film that deals with similar subjects is that it tackles the predator/prey issue head on. It’s not just glanced over or mentioned once or twice, it’s the focal point of the entire film, and it’s not afraid to show the more grizzly truths of this type of story that no Disney film would ever touch. You’ll see this more as I go on.

Later, we see the Maiasaur herd migrating while the mother stays to take care of her young (it’s greatly implied that she had been exiled from the group for raising a predator). Her two sons are now a bit older, with the T. rex named Heart and his brother named Light. They play and fight like any other sibling duo would. Light especially picks on his brother’s eating habits. Heart has sustained himself on berries alone, and can’t bring himself to eat leaves and nuts. Heart also tends to chase little creatures, and finds himself sucking on the tail of a lizard. Despite these odd habits, neither Heart nor his brother completely realize that Heart is actually a carnivore. Still, Heart begins having strange dreams and starts to realize that he is somehow different, he just can’t place how at the moment.

The next day Heart and Light go out into the forest to look for food. I would like to take this time to note the really interesting contrasting art style this movie has. While the characters themselves are drawn with simple geometric shapes and cartoony proportions, the rest of the world is incredibly detailed. The forest itself is lush and vibrant, and the other creatures are drawn much more realistically. The birds, the insects, the mammals, they all look more natural than the cartoonish main characters. You don’t really see this kind of style in Western Animation. In America the entire world in an animated work usually has a pretty consistent look and any change in that style would usually be pretty jarring. However, in this movie the contrasting styles seem to work incredibly well. I’m not sure if this is an animation trope unique to this movie or common in a lot of anime but whatever the case is I really like it in this picture.

Anyway, as the two brothers wander around the forest Heart get’s distracted by a mammal and starts chasing it. Light follows, and the two then accidentally fall down a ravine and into a misty swamp. There they hear an ominous voice, singing about a ‘Big Jaw’ (what they call Tyrannosaurs in this world, yes they do resort to Land Before Time dinosaur names in this movie) and how it steals away crying children. It turns out that the voice actually belongs to a….

….

….

…something (I couldn’t find a picture of it online, but it looks like some sort of reptilian sloth, perhaps a stylized therizinosaur? At times I can’t tell if this movie is supposed to take place in a cartoon version of the Mesozoic or in it’s own unique fantasy setting) singing her baby a lullaby (and if you think a song about a predator eating crying babies is too morbid a subject for a lullaby, I invite you to analyze the lyrics of ‘Rock a bye Baby’). The mother sloth thing is scared by Heart’s presence, and Light discovers that Heart matches the description of the ‘Big Jaw’ from the song. How does Heart react?

Looks like Light…..broke his Heart.

Sorry to subject you to that terrible, terrible joke.

Heart begins to realize he’s different, but his mother tries to comfort him. You can tell that she is lying to herself when she is doing so, and realizes that Heart will grow up to be very different and she can’t always be there for him but can’t bring it upon herself to let him go. It’s really heartbreaking.

After a short but beautifully animated food chain sequence (a small insect surrounded by mold spores in amazing detail get’s eaten by a spider, which then get’s captured by a frog, which then get’s eaten by a mammal, which is then carried off by a bird), Heart goes off on his own to figure out what it is that he actually eats. He stumbles into a clearing, and sees a pack of other Big Jaws trying to take down a Triceratops (called a ‘three horn’, as per usual).

The battle is surprisingly brutal, especially for the tone of the film. The T. rex’s and the Triceratops both fight very aggressively, and the Triceratops even manages to kill one of the pack members (while losing a horn in the process). The battle ends with a huge T. Rex named Baku, the leader of all the Big Jaws, taking down the poor creature in one bite.

Baku, at first, seems to be a pretty respectable and level headed leader. He let’s the rest of the pack eat the kill, and this is where Heart discovers what his kind eats. The pack members tear into the Triceratops, ripping out chunks of flesh (granted there’s no blood and the flesh looks more like clumps of bubblegum than anything, but still!). A scene like this may feel out of place to an American audience member, used to the way Western Animation tends to tip toe around these kind of images. But like I said, this movie tackles the predator/prey problem that a lot of these movies so poorly handle head on, and that means showing the predators kill other creatures. Nobody would dare do this in America. Even if they were to show a predator character hunting, the prey items being hunted would most likely not be anthropomorphisized and instead act like normal animals (even if all the other animals in the movie talk and show emotion). But there is a problem with that kind of portrayal. Let’s look at The Lion King for example. The main characters are lions, which are obviously predators. But we never see them eat. They talk about their diet and every once and a while we see hunting, but you would never see them actually eating a zebra or wildebeest. While you can argue that killing wouldn’t really enhance the plot in any way for The Lion King, my point still stands that if this movie was made in America with the same plotline, I guarantee you there wouldn’t be any dinosaurs ripping into each other’s flesh.

Heart is mortified by what the other Big Jaws are doing, and tries to run away. One of the pack members, named Gonza, approaches Heart and remarks that he smells like a plant eater. Baku then intervenes, and surprisingly shows a lot of concern for Heart. He asks if he’s hungry, if he’s lost and where his parents are. Heart says he has a mother, and Baku politely tells him to return to her. My first impression of Baku was very mixed, I must say. He’s certainly imposing, and looks like the kind of guy that commands a lot of respect, but he doesn’t raise his voice or show any real aggressive tendencies (you know, besides killing a Triceratops with one bite).

Heart tries to run back home, still traumatized by what he just saw. After meeting up again with his Light, he realizes that Gonza had followed him. Gonza puts two and two together and realizes that Heart and Light consider each other family. He taunts them for a bit, saying that Heart is a meat eater and his role is to kill others like Light. Heart doesn’t take this sitting down, and after being pushed to his limit, Heart retaliates and bites off Gonza’s tail.

 

Now, while watching this I thought for a second that perhaps they were going to pull the ‘dinosaur tails grow back just like lizard tails’ trope that I hate so much. There was a bit of foreshadowing for that, especially with Heart chewing on the lizard tail earlier in the movie.

But it becomes abundantly clear later in the film that no, dinosaur tails don’t grow back. Heart literally tore off another creature’s appendage.

And then swallows it.

Heart then comes to a horrible conclusion.

Yeah, I hear yah.

After this, Heart runs away from home. After a time cut, we see Heart as a grown adult, and actually comfortable in his role as a predator. He even sings that Big Jaw lullaby from earlier as his own personal theme song while hunting a herd of sauropods. Speaking of which, he has grown into a VERY good hunter.

 

Yes, because that is how tyrannosaurs hunt.

While trying to fight Heart off, the sauropods begin collapsing from exhaustion (at first I thought this was a reference to the idea that sauropods couldn’t hold their heads up for too long or else they may loose blood circulation to the brain, but I’m not really sure) and is able to feed off of one of them. However, he is one Gonza’s pack’s territory, and is ran off by Gonza himself (still tailless).

Sometime later, Heart finds and egg that hatches into a baby Ankylosaurus. Heart prepares to eat it, calling it Umasou (the Japanese word for ‘delicious’). However, the little ankylosaur latches on to Heart and thinks he’s his dad, and that his dad named him Umasou. Now, let’s talk about Umasou for a little bit.

Oh Japan, must you make everything adorable?

Umasou is one of the cutest, sweetest, most endearing child characters I’ve ever seen. But one of the great things about it is that he never gets annoying to me. Child characters often tend to overstay their welcome, and Umasou does do several things in the movie that are meant to be annoying, but it never goes to far. He remains likable and believable as an actual kid. I think a lot of it has to do with the voice actor, who sounds very genuine and is actually a very good actor.

Umasou instantly latches on to Heart, and of course this puts Heart in a very awkward situation. He didn’t set out to be a dad, heck he came here for an easy meal, but he can’t bring himself to abandon this kid. So he brings him back to his home.

That night, Heart has a nightmare of him as a kid looking for his mother. He walks around a black voice with the voice of his mother calling out to him. He can’t find where the voice is coming from, but then realizes that it was coming from inside him, for he has eaten his family-wait, WHAT?!!

Heart awakens from this horrifying dream with reasonable dread. He then sees Umasou next to him, and begins to contemplate eating while he’s asleep. As Heart begins to lick him, this happens.

Heart the appoints himself as Umasou’s caretaker, saying to himself that it will be better to eat him when he gets bigger (like that is going to happen). In the mean time, he still has to hunt. And because he doesn’t want Umasou to see him killing other animals, he must leave him behind. However, Umasou is just a tad bit, clingy.

Yep,  we’ve all been there.

While Heart is out hunting, Umasou is attacked by a…..

What is that supposed to be?

Is that a demon? Did that thing crawl out of the depths of hell and come to terrorize cartoon dinosaurs?

Oh, according to the creators, that thing is supposed to be a Chilantaisaurus.

Hmm, don’t see much of a resemblance.

Then again, this isn’t that kind of movie.

Anyway, the demon dinosaur thing tries to eat Umasou, but Heart comes back just in time and kicks the creature halfway across the world. Heart is frustrated that Umasou is so ignorant of the dangers around him, which doesn’t help when he Umasou runs off on his own again. Heart  goes on a rampage trying to find Umasou, who was simply out picking berries.

Umasou returns, and Heart is at first furious at him, but then realizes that he brought back the same berries he used to eat as a kid and all he wanted was to eat with his father. They reconcile and Umasou mentions he met an old tyrannosaur while hunting for berries. They meet the old dinosaur, who is no longer able to move and can’t chew tough food. He puts together that Heart is taking care of Umasou, and warns him to make sure that Baku, the leader Big Jaw from before doesn’t see this. He then tells a story of how Baku became ruler of the plains fighting off a pack of ‘gluttonous long necks from the south’.

I can assure you that isn’t me.

The conversation boils down to the fact that Baku commands respect, and that it’s going to be difficult for a meat eater like Heart to raise a plant eater like Umasou.

After listening to the old man’s advice, Heart thinks it’s time Umasou learns how to protect himself, so he begins training Umasou in the art of dinosaur kung fu!

No joke.

We get this great training montage that would make Rocky blush, and it’s all set to the beat of a corny Japanese pop song called ‘Jump Kick, Tail Smash’ (I take it Japanese pop songs with English randomly put in is a common thing?). As silly as the song is, it actually is pretty good, and Umasou ends up learning a lot (which makes sense, Ankylosaurus was probably a dinosaur you wouldn’t want to mess with).

Umasou: The Teenage Years.

The whole sequence also shows just how close Heart and Umasou are getting. However, Heart still worries about the inherit dangers of raising him, worrying what would happen if Umasou would ever find out about Heart’s true nature. We hear Heart’s internal monologue after he put’s Umasou to bed, as he contemplates the fact that he isn’t really Umasou’s father, right before he brutally kills a Protoceratops for food.

The next day (I think, the movie doesn’t really make the time frame all that clear) Heart tells Umasou that he is strong enough to defend himself now, and that he has to live on his own for now on. What is Umasou’s response?

Oh no, oh no don’t do this to me movie.

Umasou begs to stay, and Heart makes a ‘deal’ that if he can beat him in a race, than they can stay together. Umasou begins running with all his might, as you see Heart catching up to him by simply plodding along, without a hint of effort. This scares Umasou, who tries with all his power to keep ahead, and it is simply one of the most heart wrenching scenes I have ever witnessed.

Umasou continues running, without looking behind. Heart then takes this opportunity to run the opposite direction, putting as much distance between each other as possible. Umasou keeps on going forward until he runs into Gonza and his pack, who begin to toy with Umasou and try to kill him. Heart hears Umasou’s cries for help, and returns to fight off Gonza and his pack. But he doesn’t just fight them off, he kicks their butt’s with dinosaur ninja skills!

Jesus Christ!

By the way, this entire fight scene is set to that Big Jaw lullaby from earlier, which is either awesome or weird depending on your tastes. Personally, I think it added an unique atmosphere to the entire scene.

This fighting, however, catches the attention of Baku, who then decides to banish Heart from this territory and promises to personally fight him if Heart ever comes back. Heart accepts the punishment, and leaves with Umasou (I should note that Umasou was in Heart’s mouth during the entire fight!).

After Umasou awakens from a bought of unconsciousness, he asks if he get’s to stay because Heart never caught up with him in the race.

 

Heart happily agrees, and finally fully accepts himself as Umasou’s father in another scene that is absolutely tear inducing.

 Heart carries Umasou in his mouth, and the two head off to find a new home. Umasou, now curled up inside Heart’s mouth, remarks that ‘inside Daddy’s tummy is warm’-wait, what?

I’m sorry, is it just me, or does that line come off as a bit fetishy? Between this and that disturbing as hell dream sequence from earlier I’m starting to wonder.

Nah, I’m probably just over-thinking it. At least the scene does give us some genuinely heartwarming imagery.

Adorable!

Some time passes, and we see Heart talking with an Elasmosaurus named Pero Pero (which means ‘lick, lick’ in Japanese, due to the character’s tendency to do just that).

Japan, why must you continue to make everything so dang cute?

 Pero Pero is apparently one of Heart’s close friends (or maybe girlfriend, the movie doesn’t really make it all that clear). She kind of just leaves the narrative as quickly as she comes in. Upon some research I have found she is actually a character from the books that inspired this movie, which I guess explains her somewhat shoehorned inclusion. At first, I thought the scene with her kind of stopped the movie’s progression and would have been better off omitted, but upon my second viewing I found myself actually enjoying her character. She’s cute and a bit eccentric, and I just find the audacity of making a plesiosaur this type of character amusing.

Anyway, we see Heart and Pero Pero sharing a large fish, and Pero recounts the time she and Heart first met. They became friends after she saved him from drowning in the ocean, but at first he hid his true personality. It wasn’t until Heart ran into a ‘Big Jaw of the sea’ (a mosasaur, with a Charles Knightian back crest) and killed it when Pero discovered Heart was a serious carnivore. Despite this, Pero still didn’t fear Heart, because she knew what he was on the inside. This leads to Heart wondering what his mother would think of what he has become, fearing that she would be scared of him now. Pero convinces Heart to go see his family again, before Egg Mountain breaks.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, Egg Mountain is actually a volcano and is starting to erupt.

Wait, Egg Mountain is basically the dinosaur’s deity, as Heart’s mother was shown praying to it at the beginning of the movie for protection. But now, their god whom they look towards for protection is now out to kill them?

Sigh, I use memes because I can’t think up of good jokes myself, it’s kind of sad really.

Anyway, Heart returns to his own territory, only to run into his old nemesis Gonza. Gonza threatens that the only way for Heart to pass is to kill him, which Heart does in a single swipe. Gonza falls down, but before he completely slips away, he tells Umasou that Heart isn’t his real father. Umasou then reveals that he knew all along, but doesn’t care. As predictable as that reveal may have been, it was still very well done and really reinforces the relationship between Heart and Umasou.

Heart runs through the forest that he once lived in, which has now caught fire from the erupting volcano. He eventually finds his old herd, and even runs into his brother Light all grown up. However, they don’t know where his mother is, and the herd is too scared to move away from their old territory. Frustrated, Heart once again goes off on his own. After a bit of searching, he finally finds her at their old nest in the woods, and they lovingly embrace each other.

Why am I crying? It’s a blue Godzilla hugging a pink humanoid duck bill. WHY IS IT SO SAD!?

Heart discovers that his mother is now taking care of a new litter of Maiasaurs, and that he is now an older brother. At first they seem scared of him, but they later accept him as their own. They then try to make their way out of the forest, only for Heart’s mother to slip down a ravine. Before she can fall, however, Light returns to give a helping hand.

As they continue to walk through the forest, Light asks the inevitable question as to whether Heart eats meat or not. Heart replies that he does, because if he doesn’t he will die. And that is one of the reasons I really love this movie, and it can really all be summed up in that one answer. Heart isn’t treated like the bad guy for still eating meat, nor is it treated as something he should be ashamed of. It’s simply a fact of life; if he doesn’t eat meat he is going to die. And the movie isn’t afraid to show him hunt and eat other creatures. In an American movie they probably wouldn’t do that not only because of the violence but also because they might fear such an honest portrayal of this creature’s lifestyle might make the character seem villainous. But characters don’t have to be so black and white. Heart is character with a lot of grey’s in his morality, he’s a carnivore that must kill to survive but has herbivores as friends and family. He’s still a good guy despite his eating habits, and he also has the discernment to choose what he does and doesn’t eat.

 Before Heart and his family can leave the range of the volcano, Baku suddenly appears. He has found out that Heart had killed Gonza, and he planned to make good on his promise to fight Heart if he were to ever return to this territory. Heart, wanting to protect his family, confronts Baku in a battle that is too dang awesome for it’s own good.

It’s so ridiculous, yet so awesome!

Heart puts up a valiant effort, but in the end is defeated by Baku. Heart’s mother then runs over to her son’s unconscious body, which surprises Baku. He can’t comprehend why a plant eater would ever care so much for a meat eater. He questions her raising him, asking what she would have done when the day came that he had to eat meat to survive. She responds that she would have let him eat her. Baku still can’t comprehend that logic, but in the end realizes that if it weren’t for the Maiasaurs Heart wouldn’t have survived. Baku decides to let them go, and it is at this moment when both Heart’s mother and the audience realize that Baku isn’t just some random T. rex, but actually Heart’s father.

After some time has passed, Heart says his goodbyes to his family and the Maiasaur herd. His mother suggests that he can still stay with them, but Heart says that it is best he stays with his own kind. Now, I know some people may take this message the wrong way and see it as the film trying to justify racial division and it would have been better if Heart stayed with his family, but I totally see why the film went this route. It’s not like The Land Before Time where there was racism between species that were all herbivores. Heart is a carnivorous T. rex, not a maiasaur with a different skin color. For this particular situation, it makes the most sense for the two to go their separate ways. Still, Heart says that he is grateful that his mother raised him, and he shares one last hug with his family before he and Umasou run off into the distance.

And that was I Am Umasou. So, what do I think of it?

Upon a second viewing, some parts of the film felt a bit clunky and out of place, and some of the characters may not be especially memorable or interesting, but in the end I absolutely adore this film. Heart in my opinion is a great and dynamic character, and Umasou is a great example of a child character being both cute and energetic without being grating or annoying. The dinosaurs may not be especially accurate, but the designs have a unique charm to them, almost like a child’s drawing, and the contrast beautifully with the richly animated and detailed surroundings. But the main reason I love this film is because it tackles the carnivore/herbivore friendship/adopted family plot I’ve seen so many times in children media in a way that is both mature and satisfying, and I can honestly say this film is the best representation of that particular story-line. At first glance this movie may just look like the Japanese Land Before Time, but it really stands out as it’s own work and shows that you can still make really good kids films about dinosaurs without having to rip off previous works. To sum it all up, i highly recommend this movie.

So, does this mean I will begin watching more anime.

Ehh, probably not.

I greatly respect Japanese animation as a beautiful art form, but in the end it it just isn’t really for me. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I hate anime or disrespect it’s fans, in fact the opposite is true. It’s really just a matter of personal tastes. On that note, if you’re into anime please don’t spam the comment section with reason’s why I should watch anime or direct me to your favorite anime show because I most likely won’t respond. I don’t have to like what you like and you don’t have to like what I like, because we all have personal tastes.

 

Now excuse me, I’m off to binge watch My Little Pony. 

Join me next time as I add a new installment to my surprisingly popular fan fiction Isla Sorna: Field Journal, and after that a Trope-osaurus dealing with the ever present battle of T. Rex vs. Triceratops.

See you then.