Star Wars and Dinosaurs

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

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So yeah, in case you’ve been living under a rock or don’t really connect to the Interwebs that much (and if that’s the case what are you doing here?) the latest installment of the Star Wars trilogy  saga mythology has recently been released to the rabid movie going populace. I’ve seen it. You’ve seen it. We’ve had some time to reflect on the movie beyond misplaced hype and excitement. What do I think of the film?

It was good. It wasn’t a masterpiece or a huge unimaginable epic, but I think it’s just what the Star Wars franchise needed right now.

But with all this Star Wars on everyone’s mind, it got me thinking, ‘how can I talk about Star Wars and interweave into something about dinosaurs so I can talk about it on my blog?’

What can I say, my mind tends to go to these places.

Well, I remember as a kid instantly attaching to something that had dinosaurs in it. It didn’t matter what the movie was or what it was about, if it had something that even looked like a dinosaur I was sold. And honestly, that was one of the things that sucked me into Star Wars as a kid. Sure, I thought the space battles were cool and the lightsabers were neat and all that stuff, but I remember really loving it when the alien creatures showed up. And as I remember, a lot of them looked like dinosaurs.

And you know what, I really understand that. When film makers design alien creatures they often take traits from actual animals and just sort of mix them up a bit. That gives us as the audience an alien creature that looks plausible as a living thing but still different enough to be considered extraterrestrial. It actually kind of helps us get sucked into the world, we can believe something like this can exist. And dinosaurs are perhaps the most alien looking creatures that have ever inhabited our planet. And yet, they were real. They actually existed. So even when we make a creature look vaguely dinosaurian, the audience can still buy it as a functioning creature because it’s based on something they’re familiar with.

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The Dewback, as seen in Star Wars: A New Hope.

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The Dewback, a large reptilian beast of burden that lives on the desert planet of Tatooine, seems to be based very much on large quadrupedal dinosaurs. It has a similar body structure of a dinosaur, but with claws and a face more like that of a lizard. Still, studying dinosaurs probably gave the filmmakers knowledge on how to make a large reptilian creature realistically move and live.

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This can probably be said for any large quadrupedal reptilian creature seen in the Star Wars universe. They may not look exactly like dinosaurs, but they’re body structures are obviously based on them, and that foot in reality does give them a level of credence.

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Even the infamous Krayt Dragon had it’s skull based on that of an Apatosaurus. You fellow dinosaur geeks can’t unsee that now, can you?

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Of course, sometimes you don’t want to create a peaceful four legged beast of burden. Sometimes you want to create a terrifying blood thirsty monsters. And of course, the Mesozoic provides many design options for that. Few creatures rival the kind of terror the name Tyrannosaurus rex invokes, so it would make sense that Star Wars would eventually create a monster based on our favorite theropod. In The Clone Wars TV series, famous Star Wars villain General Grevious owns a pet Roggwart named Gor, which he releases upon Jedi Master Kit Fisto and his Mon Kalamari Padawan (man, that is one nerdy sentance). And this creature is obviously based on a tyrannosaur, or at least a theropod of some kind. Personally, his boxy head reminds me of a abelisaur.

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I’m not the only one who sees it, right?

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Of course, sometimes the theropod influences aren’t nearly as in-your-face as they are with the Roggwart. Take the Acklay for example, famous for it’s appearance in Attack of The Clones. At first glance it just looks like a terrifying mix of a crab and a praying mantis. But when George Lucas pitched the idea, he wanted a creature that was a mix between those two creatures and a (Hollywood) Velociraptor. And in the concept art, I can really see it.

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Yeah, if I was tasked to create a part mantis part crab part raptor monster, this would probably be the end result still.

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The dinosaur influences can be a little more subtle from time to time, sometimes to points were I’m not sure it’s intentional and I might just be reading into it too much. For example, the Varactyl from Episode III is obviously based more on a lizard than a dinosaur, but the feathers and the beak and the other bird-like qualities still just bring dinosaur to my mind. I don’t know, putting feathers on a reptilian creature, they had to know something.

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Even this kybuck, from the 2D animated Clone War mini series, is basically a modern day antelope but with a theropod body plan. This is another example of designers taking traits from two different creatures mixing them together, and creating something new. It’s a tried and true formula, and it really works. Personally I think the kybuck looks really cool.

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Of course, dinosaurs aren’t the only source of inspiration prehistory has to offer. The Reek, from Episode II, has obvious inspiration from a bull and a rhino, but the overall body design is very reminiscent of a Placerias.

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Even down to the cute little stub tail.

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The Mesozoic’s second most famous group of reptiles, the pterosaurs, also supply ample inspiration for the creature designers. The Dactillion is basically just a pterosaur with forelimbs along with winged appendages. In fact, the creature looks so similar to the Walking With Dinosaurs Ornithocheirus, when I searched for the above image on Google it directed me to information on said show before it took me to anything related to Star Wars.

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Of course, the Ruping from The Clones Wars TV series looks so much like a Hollywood pterodactyl they might as well have called it Rodan.

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And even though the Aiwha seems to have more cetacean influences in it’s body design (wait a minute…Aiwha…air whale?….God Damn It Star Wars!) the influence from pterosaurs is still quite visible.

 

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Although not nearly as common, some animals in the Star Wars universe take inspiration from Ice Age mammals as well. No person familiar with paleontology cam deny that the Eopie looks incredibly like a Macrauchenia.

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Man, an unaltered Macrauchenia would fit fine within the Star Wars universe.

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Now, let’s move on from simple animals to fully sapient residents of the Star Wars galaxy. The infamous Gungans of The Phantom Menace are perhaps the most hated alien species to ever appear in a Star Wars movie, thanks in on small part to the pervasiveness of Jar Jar Binks. But as a kid, I liked him; no only because I was four and I would gobble up any slightly cool crap that was put in front of me, but also because they kind of looked like dinosaurs. The Gungans have obvious amphibian influences in their design, but their faces bring to mind classic depictions of duck billed hadrosaurs, specifically old school illustrations of ‘Trachodon’.

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How wude.

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Heck, even the mounts of the Gungans (the Kaadu) look basically like hadrosaurs with their forelimbs cut off and their tail shorten.

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Of course, some sentient alien designs hit the whole dinosaur angle a little bit too hard on the nose, especially in the Expanded Universe. The Ssi-ruu, for example, are and often seen species in Star Wars novels and comics, and more or less look like sapient theropods (apart from the weird tongue things coming out of their noses, had to be different somehow).

The Tiss’shar, also from the Expanded Universe, take this even farther. Depending on the artist, they could look vaguely dinosaurian to full on Jurassic Park Velociraptor!

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I claim copyright infringement!

The only time a creature like this had appeared in the original trilogy was probably in Bossk from The Empire Strikes Back, but even then it can be argued that his design looks more lizard-y than anything distinctively dinosaurian.

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Eww..

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When it comes to obviously dinosaur based beings, the prequel trilogy ones up what came before it by giving us an actual dinosaur Jedi Knight! Coleman Trembor, as seen in Attack of the Clones, is obviously based on a Parasaurolophus. I remember watching this movie in the theaters, and when this guy showed up, it immediately got my attention. In that one second of screen time, he was automatically my favorite Jedi (in the long standing tradition of loving Star Wars characters simply because they look cool and not because they contribute to the story). I was on the edge of my seat waiting for this guy to do something awesome. After some action focusing on the other characters, we finally see him again. He jumps in front of Count Dooku, wielding his lightsaber, prepared to strike. Oh my God! He can take out Count Dooku right now! This could put an end to the Clone Wars before they even begin!

Then Jango Fett comes out and shoots him.

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Sempai, no!

He only have five seconds of screen time. He was never seen again.

Seven year old me was sad.

So yeah, dinosaur influence can be seen all throughout the Star Wars franchise, whether the usage is subtle or in your face. But dinosaurs are pretty alien themselves, nothing quite like them (except birds of course) exists today. So yeah, taking influence from them when creating new bizarre creatures does make sense. Now if you excuse me, I’ve got to go. Must…see…Star Wars…again…..

The Good Dinosaur Official Trailer 2 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/

 

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….

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.

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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….

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.)

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

 

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 #39: Gravity Falls Episode: The Land Before Swine 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/

OK, I’m going to try something new.

For movies/TV shows/anything else that has dinosaurs or prehistoric creatures in it that I want to talk about but I don’t think I can make a full review of, I’ll be doing these shorter mini reviews. I did something similar with the Dinosaur sitcom a few posts back, and I’ll be doing it a lot more in the future. They should be shorter than my normal reviews, but some may end up running a bit long if I end up finding more to talk about. But for the most part, they’ll be short and to the point. I’ll also be doing this format for media I haven’t personally seen or read but still want to talk about because of the dinosaurs.

Anyway, let’s talk about Gravity Falls.

As I said in my Disney’s Dinosaur and Fantasia review, I am a big fan of Disney and animation in general. As such, I still watch a lot of cartoons, despite being almost 20.

I haven’t breathed a word of this to my father.

Anyway, one of the cartoons currently running right now that I love the most is Gravity Falls on Disney Channel. The series revolves around a pair of twins named Dipper and Mable Pines that are sent to live with their Great Uncle (or G’runkle as they call him) Stan over the summer in a small Oregon town called Gravity Falls. While there, they run into all sorts of weird creatures, from trolls and monsters to inter-dimensional demons and psychopathic computer games. There is also an unfolding mystery surrounding the town and it’s weird occurrences, involving an ever unfolding conspiracy that may involve everybody in Gravity Falls. I love the show for a couple of reasons. First off, the characters are all completely fleshed out and identifiable. Second, the actual mystery behind the show is genuinely intriguing. Third, and probably most of all, the writing and humor is hilarious, and a lot of the jokes seem more in place in The Simpsons than in a Disney Channel cartoon.

I like this style of humor.

Of course, with a series that deals with so many different kinds of monsters and creatures, eventually something prehistoric was going to appear. So, we have an episode that deals with a Pteranodon wreaking havoc. So, what does it look like?

OK, allow me to go into irrational geek mode.

As I have made very clear on the blog before, one of my biggest pet peeves is the whole ‘Ptero-Soarer’ image that pterosaurs in media have. I’ll link you to this TVTropes page that explains things in a bit more detail.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PteroSoarer

Basically, this guy has all the cliches.

First off, I’ll just mention that all the characters refer to the creature as a ‘dinosaur’. As a paleontology geek, this sets me off immediately. I know it’s not exactly common knowledge that pterosaurs were not actually dinosaurs (at least to the public) but it is one of those mistakes that takes me out of it immediately. It just bothers me, for some reason. I know it sounds irrational, but it does.

Some people get that feeling when people refer to all pterosaurs as ‘pterodactyls’, like they do in the episode. This doesn’t bother me that much, and if they only referred to the creature as that I would be fine (what else would they call it, it’s not like it looks like any known pterosaur). But many times they do go out of their way to call the creature a dinosaur, so it still bothers me.

However, I do find it funny when a couple of the characters discuss the pronunciation of ‘Pterodactyl’. Soos (the chubby guy in the question mark T-shirt) constantly pronounces the name with a hard ‘p’. Dipper (the kid with the pine tree cap) tries to correct him, but Soos remarks that nobody actually knows how it was pronounced because no one was around in dinosaur times.

That there is some insane troll logic.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the creature itself.

Sigh…

Well, many a dino nerd have voiced their rage with Pteranodon depictions with teeth, even though the name Pteranodon means “winged and toothless”. And I know I’ve voiced my rage on that subject.

No, just no.

However, there actually is a pterosaur out there with the crest of a Pteranodon but a mouth full of sharp teeth. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Ludodactylus.

Yes, this is real.

But let’s be honest, the team behind this show didn’t really have Ludodactylus in mind when they designed this thing.

Other things include the leathery hairless (or should I say featherless) skin, the slit pupils added to make him look more evil, the fact that it is ABSOLUTELY HUGE…

Creature not to scale.

…but the thing that gets me more rowed up than anything is the one thing I can’t stand.

 

Pterosaurs didn’t have eagle talons. They could not pick up prey with their feet, they did it with their mouths. Grabbing anything with their feet would not only be impossible (the toes can’t grasp or perch), but it would also throw off the equilibrium of the animal and it wouldn’t be able to fly. I’m always seeing this cliche, fueled by old dinosaur movies that did this.

 

Well, most of them are old.

We also have a baby pterodactyl, in an egg that is comically over-sized.

How adorable.

While the group is trapped in the nest, the way they escape it is by standing right in front of it. As Soos puts it, their eyes are so far apart from each other that if you stand right in front of it they can’t see you.

That is a very hurtful stereotype.

Yeah, I’m not buying it.

Really, the only cliche this pterodactyl doesn’t display are those weird multi fingered bat wings some depictions have.

Pterosaurs were not bats.

Hey, at least it walks on all fours.

You know, if that’s any consolation.

But you may ask yourself, how did a pterosaur make it’s way into the modern world? Why, it was preserved in tree sap, of course.

And he’s not alone.

I’ll go on record in saying that I absolutely hate the trope where things that are encapsulated in some form of liquid or ice or something are still alive when freed and didn’t you know, suffocate or something. Those dino’s should be long dead.

That’s different, his healing factor kept him alive. Totally logical.

Anyway, about these dinosaurs, it’s obvious the designers or someone got all their dino knowledge from Jurassic Park.

Look at that Isla Sornian Velociraptor.

Heck, this episode actually has a lot of references to Jurassic Park. In the beginning of the episode, a mosquito is shown trapped in tree sap, foreshadowing what happens in the episode.

However, I find this to be somewhat confusing. If it was meant as a callback to Jurassic Park, then that brings to mind cloning. But, these dinosaurs didn’t come to be from cloning, they were just stuck in the tree sap. If the intended analogy was that the mosquito was also trapped in the sap, then you succeeded. But if you meant to bring to mind Jurassic Park specifically, then you’re insinuating cloning, which has nothing to do with this story.

I’m probably over thinking it.

On the Jurassic Park referencing note, Grunkle Stan comes upon these dinosaurs frozen in amber and thinks he can run a theme park off of it. The name he thinks would fit?

Jurassic….

Sap Hole.

Seems to fit just fine.

You know, before we leave, I could have sworn there was another dinosaur in this series. Oh yeah, the one in the time travel episode.

Wait, doesn’t that look kind of familiar?

Oh, I see what you did there Disney.

So yeah, this episode may exhibit some of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to pterosaur depictions, but I’m not going to boycott it or anything. The episode is still entertaining, and the show itself is still really good. However, I know this isn’t going to be everyone’s thing, so just because I love it doesn’t mean you have too. There are plenty of things people recommend to me that I can’t get into, even though I fully admit that they’re good, they’re just not my thing.

Weird anime stuff usually tops that list for me.

Join me next time as I do another Trope-osaurus, this time dealing with those ever present dangers of volcanic activity.

Have you ever asked yourself, why is there always a volcano in the background?

When Dinosaurs Ruled The Mind #38: Fantasia: The Rite Of Spring Segment

(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/ As I mentioned in my Disney’s Dinosaur review, I am a fan of animation as well as Disney. For the most part, Disney Animation is considered children entertainment, or family entertainment at best. But Fantasia is in another league entirely. This movie was Walt Disney’s passion project, and his turn to be adult and artsy. And this movie is artsy as heck! Unfortunately, the film bombed when it was released (due in part with the high production cost, the lack of interest from the general public, and a freakin’ world war messing everything up at the time) but has since been considered a lost classic. Personally, I adore this movie, but I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. It’s really only for animation and music fans. For people used to modern day fast paced constantly moving Dreamworks style animation (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I love Dreamworks as well) this movie might be a little bit slow. Heck, I remember the first time I saw it I didn’t know what to think of it. It was in first grade in music class when I first saw this film (I finally recognized a lot of the background characters from the House of Mouse after watching it). At the time, it was way too slow for me, and I didn’t really enjoy it (except for a few bits). So yeah, this movie isn’t for those with a low attention span. However, if you’re a fan of animation (especially good animation) you’ll love this movie. From a technical standpoint, it’s GORGEOUS. This movie boasts some of the best animation I’ve ever seen, certainly the best of it’s time. Really, the entire film is just a showcase of what animation is capable of. The film boils down to a anthology of non connected stories set to classical music. Each one is tonally different from each other, and the change can be quite jarring for the first time viewer. We get cute segments with Mickey Mouse becoming a magician and hippos, ostriches, and alligators doing ballet…

…to an horrific segment with the devil raising spirits from their graves and sending them to Hell while demons, skeletons, witches and harpies dance around him.

I will remind you that this film was made for adults, so don’t say I didn’t warn yah when you pop it into the DVD player and your kids have nightmares after watching it. But forget all that. You know what we’re here for right?

DINOSAURS!!!

Yes, the segment that immediately got my attention as a kid was the Rite of Spring segment, which details the history of earth from it’s formation eons ago to the extinction of the dinosaurs. This segment opens a fascinating window into what the general public thought of dinosaurs back in the 1940’s, so I think it would be an excellent piece of animation to analyze scientifically here in this blog. Now remember, I’m only going to judge it by what scientists knew at the time, not by what we know now. I may make comparisons and observations to modern theories every now and again, but it won’t effect the movie’s overall score at the end. Now, let’s take a look, shall we?

The segment starts with the film’s composer (Leopold Stokowski) explains what the following animation is going to be about. He explains how the segment will be about the growth of life on earth, and says it will be a coldly accurate reproduction of what scientists think happened in earths early history.

 

O RLY? Excuse me, allow me to put on my skepticals.

He then goes on to describe dinosaurs, and shows us exactly what people thought of dinosaurs in the early 20th century (hold in your laughter). He says the name dinosaur means “terrible lizard”, and that they certainly live up to that name (I said don’t laugh). He says they came in all shapes an sizes including ‘little crawling horrors about the size of a chicken, to 100 ton nightmares”.

Horrors?

Nightmares?

Look, I know dinosaurs where strange, but don’t make them out like movie monsters.

He later goes on to say they weren’t very bright, with even the biggest dinosaurs only having the brain of a pigeon. I guess you can argue that’s technically right, since most scientists think dinosaurs had intelligence akin to birds, but the way he’s saying it is clearly in the ideology of the time that dinosaurs were dumber than modern animals. Back then scientists thought that dinosaurs were so stupid they could barely function, with some going as far as saying they were mistakes of nature doomed to extinction. That is a very unfair thought, as dinosaurs were probably as intelligent as animals to day. That means they were as smart as they needed to be, and certainly not clumsy in their own skin like science back then would have you believe. Dinosaurs were incredibly successful creatures, and wouldn’t have lasted so long if they were as awkward as we once thought. They were masters of their environment, and would probably still be here if that pesky asteroid didn’t kill them.

I’m sorry, the stereotype that dinosaurs were dumb really irks me.

Anyway, he then goes on to say that dinosaurs lived in the air, water, as well as on land. Now, modern science would actually agree with that statement, since birds are considered dinosaurs and inhabit the air, and Spinosaurus seems especially adapted for water (not to mention many dinosaur which probably spent at least some of their time in water). But I’m am nearly certain that this guy is referring to pterosaurs and marine reptiles, which certainly weren’t dinosaurs. Of course, he could be referring to sauropods which were thought at the time to live their entire lives in the water, but that still doesn’t excuse the ‘air’ dinosaurs.

He says as a rule they were vegetarians, which I believe was supposed to refer to the fact that there are more herbivorous dinosaurs than carnivorous ones, which is true. But the way he says it is misleading, as it makes it sound like carnivorous dinosaurs where rare, which they most certainly weren’t. He does say there where meat eaters though, and refers to them as ‘bullies and gangsters’. Why the colorful description? They were just animals, T. rex has gotta eat something.

Another thing that bugs me is that he says that the plant eaters were ‘rather amiable and easy to get along with’. First of all, just because you eat plants doesn’t make you docile (hippos anyone?). Second of all, didn’t you just a moment ago refer to them as ‘100 ton nightmares’?

He then mentions the extinction, which he says may have been caused by great droughts and earthquakes creating a great Dust Bowl like storm across the world. While this was a common theory at the time, nowadays we are confident an asteroid caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. Other factors where at play during that time that made it difficult for the dinosaurs, however. Increased volcanism and climate changed greatly reduced the dinosaurs numbers beforehand, with the meteor simply being the final blow. Still, I’m skeptical that those other factors without the asteroid would have wiped out the dinosaurs completely on their own. Heck, the end of the Triassic and Jurassic periods went through similar changes and no one seems to talk about those.

Sigh, it’s just the introductory monologue and already over 1200 words. This is going to be fun.

Now, let’s start at the REAL beginning.

The segment starts with the early formation of Earth, before there was any life. We see earth when it was still a volcano laden wasteland. This sequence has some INCREDIBLE animation, with the volcanoes erupting and the flowing lava moving incredibly. I have to remind myself this was before any computer animation techniques and shortcuts, and this was all animated by hand. No wonder this movie cost a fortune.

 

After that, we begin to see a plethora of primitive life, from single celled organisms to more complex ocean life to the first amphibian to crawl onto land. But before we see the creature make it’s historical destination, the film seems to cut to the late Cretaceous.

So, I guess nothing interesting happened between the last 400 million years.

Oh well, I guess this means I get to see some dinosaurs now. So, what do we’ve got first.

Well, it would seem we have entered a Mesozoic coastal scene. A turtle like creature swims to the shore. My first thought was that this was a Henodus, a Triassic marine reptile that looked superficially like a turtle but wasn’t closely related. But that was a Triassic reptile, not a Cretaceous. But it looks too much like a Henodus, it even has the head spikes.

Oh no, it’s going to be one of those movies, is it?

Anyway, we see some mosasaurs, which are incredibly spiny for some reason

It was once though mosasaurs had these spines along their back, but the depiction has since been debunked. Still, it was accepted back then, so I can’t blame them.

We also get some classic looking snake headed elasmosaurs, whose necks as per usual are depicted as way too flexible. Plesiosaurs actually had very stiff necks, and would never be able to crane upwards as they are depicted here. The most they could probably move it is from side to side  and straight ahead, nothing like they’re usually portrayed. They are also shown congregating on land, which would have been very much impossible, and probably would have been a death sentence to the animal in real life.

Scientists used to think that because plesiosaurs were reptiles they would have to crawl up to shore and lay their eggs on the land, like a sea turtle. We now know this would certainly beach them, and they more than likely gave birth to live young in the sea.

We then meet a colony of Pteranodon, which are actually refreshingly accurate.

Sure, some of them hang upside down like a bat, but other then that they’ve held up exceptionally well. They move and act like actual animals, and the animation when they fly together when fishing is beautiful, almost poetic. It really brings to mind pelicans in flight.

Still images don’t cut it, you have to see it in motion. That’s really the point of animation, I guess.

Sadly, one of the Pteranodons get’s snapped up by a mosasaur while fishing.

Ah dang it!

We then go through a jungle and…wait, is that what I think it is?

Are…are those Dimetrodon?

But, the scene beforehand was obviously Cretaceous. Is this movie trying to insinuate that Dimetrodon lived at the same time as Pteranodon and Mosasaurus?

No, it can’t be.

Maybe the movie took a step backwards in time for whatever reason. It wouldn’t make a lot of narrative sense, but this is an artsy movie, so why the heck not?

Look, Nothosaurs! Triassic creatures. Sure, not as ancient as Dimetrodon, but not as bad as Cretaceous animals. Perhaps the movie really did go backwards in time again.

Wait, is that an ankylosaur?

OK, so if you haven’t guessed it by now, this movie just slumps together creatures from different time periods into the same habitat. Now, for fiction, this doesn’t bother me. I didn’t bring it up in my Disney’s Dinosaur of my Land Before Time reviews because honestly it doesn’t bother me.

In fiction.

But when people make this mistake in something that’s supposed to be educational, I really get pissed. But you may say ‘this isn’t a documentary, it’s a Disney cartoon; it’s not meant to be strictly accurate’. And normally I would agree with you there. But this wouldn’t bother me if the conductor at the beginning of the short clearly stated this was a ‘coldly accurate reproduction’.

So yeah, looks like I was right to be skeptical.

Oh well, that’s actually the least of our worries. You prepared for what’s coming next? You should be. Prepare for a full frontal assault of….

1940’s DINOSAUR CLICHES!!!!!!

 

First we watch a Triceratops walk by, whom looks pretty standard for the time this movie came out.

The look of Triceratops in this film is pretty much how we though the dinosaur looked until the 80’s.

Like I’ve said before, I have a soft spot for old school depictions of Triceratops. They just give me a warm sensation of nostalgia. I really like how they animate the creature here, as it has a real sense of weight and presence. It feels like you’ve just walked into him in the jungle, like if you were to stumble upon an elephant or a rhino in the wild. Still, by today’s standards, it is woefully inaccurate, and that’s not even taking into account the lack of quills.

We even get to see a couple of babies! How adorable!

OMG IT’S DINAH AND DANA!!!!

We then see something that I’m guessing is supposed to be an Ornitholestes, but looks nothing like it. And in normal fashion, he is chasing after an Archaeopteryx.

I told you we were in for a lot of dinosaur cliches.

Actually, the Archaeopteryx doesn’t even look like an Archaeopteryx, but instead it looks like those weird feathered lizards we used to see in paleo art before dinosaurs were discovered to have feathers.

That looks so weird today.

Next we get probably the greatest dinosaur stereotype of them all, Brontosaurus’ in the water.

That's it! I've had it!

That’s it! I’ve had it!

What? Who are you?

Remember me? Dinosaur Martin Luther King? From the Dinosaur sitcom review?

Remember me? Dinosaur Martin Luther King? From the Dinosaur sitcom review?

Oh yeah, I remember you, you’re that dinosaur rights activist.

More specifically, my goal is to rid the public's opinions of hurtful dinosaur stereotypes. I've been reading this review so far, and the depictions in this movie are atrocious. Some of the worsts things I've ever seen.

More specifically, my goal is to rid the public’s opinions of hurtful dinosaur stereotypes. I’ve been reading this review so far, and the depictions in this movie are atrocious. Some of the worsts things I’ve ever seen. Dimetrodon in the Mesozoic, snake headed Elasmosaurs, Brontosaurs in water, Ornitholestes chasing lizard/bird hybrids, dinosaurs being depicted as slow and dumb reptiles, it’s horrible!

You think this is bad, you haven’t seen anything yet.

Oh, I dread the moment I see.

Oh, I dread the moment I see.

Next up, we see a flock of Ornithomimids exiting the forest and getting a drink of water.

My glorious feathered brothers. They have reduced you to naked snaking freak shows!

My glorious feathered brothers. They have reduced you to naked snaking freak shows! And are their tails dragging?

Well, yeah, but remember, science didn’t know any better back then. You can’t really fault them for…

No excuse!

No excuse!

Okay…. Next we meet up with a Stegosaurus, who seems to be struggling with a weight problem.

This Stegosaurus also exhibits many of the thoughts we had on dinosaurs back then. It is very slow and sluggish, and it’s legs are sprawled out to it’s sides, like a lizard. We now know that the legs of dinosaurs went directly underneath the creature, giving it a much less clumsy and reptilian look.

Now there’s a creature that looks like it can actually move!

The Stegosaur knocks down some little dinosaurs in the trees, which I think might be hypsilophodon. These dinosaurs were once thought to have inhabit trees.

Although many have disregarded this theory, I think personally it still may hold some ground. I mean, I’m not saying it’s probable, but would future paleontologists think this is probable?

Yes, those are goats. Yes, this is real. No, you can’t infer that with a skeleton.

The next dinosaur we see is a Parasaurolophus, and it’s one of the strangest depictions of the dinosaur I’ve ever seen.

I don’t know what it is, but something about that crest of skin throws me off. I’ve never seen the hypothetical skin flap of a Parasaurolophus depicted so big before.

Usually it’s depicted about as long as the image above, but in this movie the flap goes a long ways down the back. Heck, many scientists don’t think this dinosaur even had this crest, as it would have restricted the head movement. But these dinos in the film don’t seem to have any problem turning their heads. But it’s animation so anything is possible.

We get some more hadrosaurs (which I’m going to assume are meant to be Trachodon, I just gotta feeling), doing what first-quarter-of-the-20th-century-Edmontosaurus/Trachodon/Anatosaurus/hadrosaurs did best: act like literal giant ducks.

Look at those webbed feet! And why are you eating water plants? Did scietists forget you had the most complex tooth system of almost any dinosaur, meaning it could eat almost anything. You don't have to resort to eating pond scum YOU HAVE HUNDREDS OF TEETH GOD DANG IT!!!

Look at those webbed feet! And why are you eating water plants? Did scietists forget you had the most complex tooth system of almost any dinosaur, meaning it could eat almost anything. You don’t have to resort to eating pond scum YOU HAVE HUNDREDS OF TEETH GOD DANG IT!!!


I don’t even know what these dinosaurs are supposed to be. I think the big dinosaurs are supposed to be Plateosaurus or some other prosauropod (which are for some reason digging for truffles) but what about that little guy? Is that supposed to be a dicynodont? Dicynodon Wait, is it supposed to be one of those lizardy looking early depictions of Protoceratops?

What made these people think we were nothing but sprawled legged big lizards?

What made these people think we were nothing but sprawled legged big lizards?

Well, they had nothing else to compare dinosaurs to, so what would you expect. Things used to be simple back then, reptiles had scales and birds had feathers, no exceptions. They had no idea how complicated things would get. So for the time being, dinosaurs were big lizards.


This lovely looking creature is a Gryposaurus, a hadrosaur that was actually pretty popular in the early 20th century, but has since lost it’s popularity. Nowadays everyone loves the lambeosaurs.

I know, we are awesome.

I know, we are awesome.

The dinosaurs so far have been pretty chill, just doing their thing and trying not to bother anyone. That all changes, however, when this guy rears his ugly (and I do mean UGLY) head.

SHARPTOOTH!

Is that supposed to be an Allosaurus?

Is that supposed to be an Allosaurus?

Um, no. It’s actually confirmed to be a T. rex.

Then why does it have three fingers?

Then why does it have three fingers?

Because Walt Disney thought it looked better this way.

Oh yeah? And I bet Walt Disney looks better with gashes across his torso. WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS THAT SONOVA...

Oh yeah? And I bet Walt Disney looks better with gashes across his torso. WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS THAT SONOVA…

Woah woah, calm down.

Don't tell me to be calm, pony boy!

Don’t tell me to be calm, pony boy!

Pony boy?

Anyway, the Tyrannosaurus is certainly weird looking, and in more ways then the fingers. The skull is very short and frog faced, but is consistent with how it was reconstructed in those days (see my post Dinosaurs Over The Years: Tyrannosaurus for more on that). But one thing I can’t get over are the fangs.

For some reason, two of the front teeth are shown to be much longer then the others, kind of like a Smilodon or a vampire. The canine teeth are way to mammalian (although vipers also have similar fangs). I don’t know if they did this for style or out of ignorance, but reptilian teeth normally don’t work that way, and that goes double for dinosaurs.

Wait a minute, did the Sharptooth from The Land Before Time also have fanged canine teeth?
He does! He actually freaking does. I can’t believe this crap!

Anyway, the T. rex decides to ruin everyone’s day and all the other dinosaurs run in a blind panic. Included in this fury is a pod of brachiosaurs, who submerge themselves in the water to escape the carnivore’s fury.

Those are some ugly brachiosaurs.

So, I wonder why the brontosaurs are only seen partially wading through water, while the brachiosaurs are seen living completely in it?

I…can’t…breath…

Oh yeah.

Eventually, the Rex finally sets his sight on a Stegosaurus, and engages in a fight so anachronistic that this would make more sense.

 

Time between T. rex and woolly mammoth? 64 million years. Time between T. rex and Stegosaurus? 85 million years. Makes you think , doesn’t it?

But it doesn’t matter, because they’re both dinosaurs.

The two continue to fight, while the other dinosaurs just look on.

Dude, pass the popcorn.

Although the Stegosaurus get’s a few good hits in, eventually the T. rex proves himself the victor.

RIP Stegosaurus. You will be missed.

The segment ends with the carnivore proclaiming his victory, right before he enjoys his well earned Stegosaurus steak. The next scene, however, begins with the extinction of the dinosaurs.

KABOOM!

Actually, no. This movie came out before it was generally accepted that a meteor impact wiped out the dinosaurs. This movie depicts the end of the Mesozoic going through what looks like a massive drought.

Although modern dinosaur fans may look at this and snicker at the thought of a heatwave killing all the dinosaurs, you have to remember that this was one of the better theories at the time. Others thought that the earth’s temperature got to cold for the dinosaurs, mammals ate all their babies, volcanic and tectonic disturbances, aliens, the great flood, or the idea that dinosaurs were too dumb to survive.

I’ll believe this before I believe dinosaurs were too dumb to survive.

Anyway, all the dinosaurs (a good 90% of the ones shown never witnessed the K/T extinction) are shown wandering around the desert, looking for food, drinking from rapidly depleting sources of water, and altogether roaming aimlessly until they fall on the ground dead. It’s actually kind if sad, even though I know most of these  dinosaurs didn’t live at the end of the Cretaceous.

Triceratops: yes.

Plateosaurus: heck no!

Hadrosaurs: yes.

Stegosaurus: definitely not!

What?! Is that a Ceratosaurus attacking a Diplodocus? When did this suddenly become the Jurassic?

This heinous disregard for science is unacceptable. Movies like this is why so many people think all dinosaurs lived at the same place and time.

This heinous disregard for science is unacceptable. Movies like this is why so many people think all dinosaurs lived at the same place and time.

The segment ends with all the dinosaurs dead…

Sorry, spoilers.

….when suddenly a massive earthquake and flood comes out of nowhere and wipes everything clean.

Floods and Earthquakes: God’s eraser.

So, that was the Rite of Spring. What did you think?

What did I think? It was terrible! A lazy attempt to show the earth's history that ended up an anachronistic sludge fest. What did you think.

What did I think? It was terrible! A lazy attempt to show the earth’s history that ended up an anachronistic sludge fest. What did you think.

I loved it.

WHAT?!

WHAT?!

Yes, I absolutely loved it. Yeah, I know I got a little upset when they said this segment would be ‘coldly accurate’ when it is chock full of mistakes, and I know that the dinosaurs don’t hold up by today’s standards, but that doesn’t stop my enjoyment of the film. The animation is breathtaking, some of the best I’ve ever seen. The mood and atmosphere of the segment is great, and really gives off this otherworldly feel. I also like it’s slow pace, which really allows the audience to just take in the visuals and music. And you know what, there is something really charming about old school dinosaurs. They kind of bring back a feeling of a simpler time in paleontology. And sure, I wouldn’t stand for depictions like this in any modern media, but they are quite in place in a movie made in the 40’s. I only wish it was longer, and perhaps depicted the Cenozoic and the Ice Age. I would love to see classic Disney animation of those animals, not to mention they would hold up much better than the dinosaurs.

Old Cenozoic artwork holds up much better than dinosaur art from the same time.

One other point worth mentioning is that this short was a great inspiration to another famous dinosaur animation…

It is kind of obvious.

Even Don Bluth said he owed a lot to The Rite of Spring with The Land Before Time. The colors and atmosphere are very similar, and the only real difference is that the dinosaurs in TLBT talk. So, without this segment, I may not have had one of my favorite childhood films.

But that doesn't excuse anything.

But that doesn’t excuse anything.

Sadly, you’re kind of right. Because of the inaccuracies in this film, not the ones that they couldn’t have known about but the ones they had full knowledge of at the time (misplaced species, three fingered Rex), I’m still going to have to gives this movie a low score. 5.5 out of 10. But that doesn’t detract from the artistic accomplishment this segment and the entire film is. If you’re into animation, check it out. If you’re into dinosaurs, at least check The Rite of Spring out.

Stop giving this movie credit! You really approve of this racist imagery?

Stop giving this movie credit! You really approve of this racist imagery?

Racist? What are you talking about? Sure, I know the mushroom and centaur segment are pretty off but…

Don't listen to this prick. He's no activist, he's an extremist. He wants to rid all inaccurate depictions of dinosaurs no matter when they came out or what merit they hold. That's not real science, that's extremism.

Don’t listen to this prick. He’s no activist, he’s an extremist. He wants to rid all inaccurate depictions of dinosaurs no matter when they came out or what merit they hold. That’s not real science, that’s extremism.

I figured you, Science of all things, would appreciate what I am doing.

I figured you, Science of all things, would appreciate what I am doing.

You can't go around berating things when they didn't know better.

You can’t go around berating things when they didn’t know better.

Enough!

Enough!

What? Who are you?

I am the Holy Lambeosaur, and I bid you to stop fighting. This constant bickering will go nowhere.

I am the Holy Lambeosaur, and I bid you to stop fighting. This constant bickering will go nowhere.

Question, are you the same as Raptor Jesus?

‘Sup.

Who, that poser? No, I'm totally different. Please, I implore that you three stop fighting. I'm afraid the path this will take will not end well for either of you.

Who, that poser? No, I’m totally different. Please, I implore that you three stop fighting. I’m afraid the path this will take will not end well for either of you.

No, I can't stop! I won't stop! I'll never stop! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

No, I can’t stop! I won’t stop! I’ll never stop! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Well that was weird.

You said it.

You said it.

Time Traveling Cynodont? Wait, were all those misplaced dinosaurs you’re fault?

Haha, maybe.

Haha, maybe.

To be continued…eventually…don’t hold you’re breath. Now, as I contemplate the fact that making a character called Dinosaur Martin Luther King an extremist has HORRIBLY unfortunate implications, join me next time as I do a mini review of of the Gravity Falls episode The Land Before Swine, and discuss tired old pterosaur tropes.

Oooh, this is going to be fun.

When Dinosaurs Ruled The Mind #34: Disney’s Dinosaur (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/

 

If you’ve been following my blog, you may know that I like dinosaurs.

But what you may not know is that I have several other interests as well. One of my other big interests is superheroes…

OMG I’M IN HEAVEN!!

…and my other big interest is in animation. And being an animation nut, I am also a big fan of Disney. I grew up in the latter half of the 90’s Disney Renaissance, with great movies like The Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and so forth being a big part of my life. However, I was still young when Disney started going through a lull, and they weren’t sure what kind of movies they were going to make. During that time, there were a lot of hits and misses, with very few movies being financial successes, or even critical successes. That’s not to say there wasn’t anything good at that time period (Lilo and Stitch comes to mind), but it was obvious that Disney wasn’t sure which direction it wanted the company to go. It was around this time that they started to dabble in that newfangled CGI animation that was bringing in all the big bucks to the theaters (now it seems like everyone is just sick of it). And thus, Dinosaur was born.

Like I said in my first look at this movie, this film came out at right the time I was REALLY getting into dinosaurs. So of course I gave it unconditional love. I saw it in the theater (even though it scared me half to death), I had the toys, I always watched it when it aired on TV, I was completely obsessed with it! So when I read the Unshaved Mouse’s review of the movie (a blogger who I unabashedly ripped off) and saw that he completely tore it apart, I was a bit surprised. Then I saw that pretty much every review of the movie I could find was overwhelmingly negative. I only remembered good things about it: the visuals, the music, and of course DINOSAURS!!!! So then I decidede to watch it again, without the nostalgia goggles.

 

And what did I think?

Yeah, you guys were all right.

Watching this movie again broke my heart. Yes, it is true, this movie is crap. For some reason I only remembered the good this movie offered (and there is still some good) but completely forgot about the piles and piles of…

So, I wondered to myself, what can I possibly say about this movie that legions of other internet critic’s haven’t already. Well, you can read this knowing it’s from the point of view of a person who lived through this movie’s popularity, bought into it, loved it, and watched it again only for it to disappoint him.

Doesn’t that sound fun?

I guess that means we can get started.

 The movie starts, pretty well actually. All we see our the outlines of dinosaurs from outside an enclosed space, and we realize we are in an egg with a baby dinosaur ready to hatch. The music too this scene is really good, as is almost every music piece in this film. Seriously, James Newton Howard did a phenomenal job with the score in this film. It’s probably my favorite film score EVER, and I’ll pinpoint scenes in this review that have the best music accompaniment.

We then exit the egg (wow, that sounded weird) and get our first look at the CGI dinosaurs in this movie.

It doesn’t hold up that great.

Yeah, this is good CG for 2000, but it simply doesn’t stand the test of time. Whenever I see a character, I can’t see a living breathing creature. All I see are CGI creations, and it certainly doesn’t help when all the backgrounds are real. That being said, the cinematography is excellent, with some truly stunning scenes.

Scenes like this just make me want to go back to the Mesozoic.

To make the backgrounds of the movie, actual locations were not only filmed, but several locations were digitally put together to create something completely different. For example, the above picture has elements from the Florida Everglades, Venezuela, and the Utah mountain ranges.  Although modern viewers can probably see the seams in the technique, it still adds to the film, creating a landscape that doesn’t quite exist on the planet anymore.

OK, back to the film. We see a mother Iguanodon looking after her eggs, while a young Parasaurolophus pesters her. The young dinosaur runs off, chasing a Longisquama.

 

The creature is shown flying, which probably would have been about as likely as a porcupine flying with it’s quills.

However, when it wanders into the forest, an unwelcome visitor comes along: the Carnotaurus.

I remember this was the first time I was introduced to this dinosaur. I was always used to seeing Tyrannosaurus as the designated predator in these movies, but this caught me completely by surprise. I’ve never seen this kind of dinosaur before, until not long after I got a dinosaur book that had an entry on it. This movie was also the first time I came across a Pachyrhinosaurus (I was all ‘where are the Triceratops?). Speaking of which, the Carnotaurus runs out of the woods, scares the daylights out of all the dinosaurs, and kills itself a Pachyrhinosaur.

DIE! DIE! DIE!

Sorry, I still have that other movie fresh in my mind.

While doing so, the Carnotarus (or carnotaur, as he is referred to by the characters) tramples through the mother Iguanodon’s nest and destroys all but one egg. Said egg is then stolen by that Oviraptor I’m constantly mocking for looking like a plucked chicken.

RAARR! I’m a dinosaur!

And of course, Oviraptor’s only purpose is to steal other people’s eggs.

I’m a good mother. I take care of my eggs. Scientists find me fossilized next to my babies, and they think I’m killing them. That’s theropod profiling, man.

Now, the egg goes on a convoluted, but awesome journey. Now, try and keep up with me. The Oviraptor runs into the forest to eat the egg, but another Oviraptor tries to steal it from him. While they fight over it, the egg accidentally falls into a river. What happens next, you’ve just got to see for yourself.

Man, I absolutely love this scene!

So, the egg goes down the river, get’s swallowed and spit out by a Koolasuchus, narrowly escapes being stomped by Pachyrhinosaurs, get’s scooped up by a Pteranodon/Geosternbergia, which flies over a massive herd of dinosaurs in beautiful terrain while the epic music swells before the egg drops after the pterosaur get’s pestered by some Ichthyornis.

Like I said, convoluted, but still awesome.

This scene really shows how great the cinematography is in this movie. This scene alone was the first trailer, and I remember when I first saw it, I was pumped (Disney did a similar thing with The Lion King by making it’s first trailer the Circle of Life sequence alone; I guess the formula works).

And OMG the music!

This scene contains one of my favorite pieces from the soundtrack. It’s so unlike anything I’ve heard in a movie before or since. The whole soundtrack in my opinion is a masterpiece.

Now, you may notice that this review has been pretty positive so far, and for good reason. The beginning of this movie is great, even with the animation that hasn’t held up too great. The cinematography and music totally makes up for that. Unfortunately, from this point onward the movie takes a massive spiraling leap into pure and utter dinosaur coprolites.

 After the pterosaur drops the egg, it lands on a tree branch (which it stays on a bit too perfectly, despite being, you know, a round object falling from a great height onto a tree branch). For some reason, the egg isn’t in a million pieces either. The crash disrupts a family of lemurs. Yes, lemurs. In the time of dinosaurs. And they talk, even though there was no indication of talking animals in the beginning of the film.

Alright, last time I talked about this movie I said I didn’t really mind the inclusion of lemurs in this movie. I understand they wanted human surrogates, and lemurs were probably the best bet. I mean, lemurs appeared in the fossil record only a few million years after the dinosaurs died.

 

Only when talking about geological time can a few million years seem short.

And I also don’t mind the fact that the animals talk. Come on, some of Disney’s best films involve talking animals.

This movie is so unrealistic. Lions don’t talk like people.

The problem with this, however, is the dialogue. By God is it insufferable! This is some of the poorest writing I’ve seen in a Disney film in a long time, and it just automatically makes me hate the movie. Even Plio, the character that I like most in the movie, get’s some annoying lines in her introduction. God, it’s like writing for an 80’s cartoon! From this point on, the film has sunk to annoying kids film.

Well, there goes the optimism.

Anyway, Plio, a female lemur, investigates the egg and finds that it contains a baby dinosaur, which looks oddly like a baby human. It’s pretty creepy, actually.

 

What is up with those toes?

Her father, Yar, is scared of the baby. He claims it’s a cold blooded monster, and I hope he means that figuratively because if he means it literally I’m killing him.

Get it, because we now think dinosaurs are warm blooded?

 

Anyway, Yar wants to kill the baby, but can’t bring himself to destroy such a defenseless little creature. In return it pees on him.

Because babies are gross, and the only humor you can derive from them is potty humor.

Entire franchises have been built upon this philosophy.

So, they keep the baby, and it grows up to be a carnivorous killing machine that consumes the entire lemur clan, causing Yar to taunt “I told you so” to his daughter as they slide down his gullet.

Yeah, I wish.

At first, it would seem like this is the case, as we are introduced to an adult Iguanodon chasing some young lemurs and catching them in his mouth. But since the dinosaur nerds in the audience all know that Iguanodons are herbivores and would violently voice their displeasure if they were portrayed otherwise, no one is fooled. Instead, he’s jut playing with the lemur kids.

This is Aladar, our main character. Most of the complaints I hear from his character is that he’s just a generally nice guy, who always does what’s right, likes to goof off, but knows when to be serious. In many people’s minds, that equals a boring character. Although I certainly see where they are coming from, I don’t really have a problem with characters like that. Not every character has to be flawed or angsty to be interesting, and sometimes it’s nice to see legitimately moral characters do good things. The problem I have with the character is actually the voice. I know this might sound weird, especially from a person born and raised in the USA, but his accent is too distractingly American.

Let me explain.

A lot of the characters in this movie have American accents, which makes sense since most the actors are American actors. But for the most part, it’s a bit more subdued, at least for the more serious characters. I don’t mind the comedic characters sounding like they do, they are comedic after all. But Aladar sounds too ‘hey dude what’s up’ American to be taken seriously. Maybe the problem is that his speaking pattern is too modern for my taste. A modern speaking style doesn’t bother me on comedic characters, but it does when it’s the main character in a world that is very much not modern. And I know the actor doesn’t always sound like that, he can be very subdued when he wants too. DB Sweeny (Aladar’s actor) did the voice of Sitka in Brother Bear a couple years after this film came out, and more recently voiced adult Aang in The Legend of Korra. I think the voices he does in those two films would have been much more appropriate here.

I mentioned this in my last review of this movie, but I’ll bring it up again. I can’t stand the fact they gave human-like lips to the Iguanodons. It looks so incredibly unnatural!

Iguanodon’s shouldn’t be able to make kissy faces.

I know they were added to make it easier to animate the character talking, but they got around that problem with a certain beaked ceratopsian character that appears later. The way I see it, there is very little excuse.

Anyway, we then meet Zini, Aladar’s quote unquote lemur brother. He thinks he’s a real Casanova, and is going to use his lady killing skills to get a date at the courtship ceremony tonight.

Spoiler: he’s going home empty handed.

I’m going to take this moment to say that the lemur animation is not that great. Although the dinosaurs are also obviously CG, in many shots they still look pretty good. The lemurs however, almost always look like a computer creation. I never for a moment believe they are actually there. And Zini here is probably the worst looking of the bunch. It also doesn’t help that he’s an overconfident prick who’s annoying as all heck.

Next we see a ceremonial courtship festival thing that the lemurs are doing. Here Zini hopes to find a mate, and I’m sure he will with his obvious charm and humility. I’ll go on to say that the music in this scene is really good, and has an uplifting African vibe to it. However, the scene itself kind of undermines the score with it’s less then witty banter. Still, some portions of the actual ceremony are pretty well choreographed, with the lemurs doing a sort of dance in the tree vines. Still, I would listen to the track on it’s own, as it holds up better on it’s own then in the actual movie.

 

In the end, though, Zini flubs up his routine by getting himself entangled in a vine and the party ends without him taking a girl home. Didn’t see that coming. Plio, however, is more worried about Aladar (I guess she sees Zini as a lost cause, as everyone should). There are no other Iguanodon’s on the island, so he is destined to die alone unless he and some other lemur share the same inter-species fetish.

I’m sure that’s somewhere on the internet.

However, the fun night comes to an end as falling streaks of light come down from the sky.

 

Heavenly bodies falling from the sky in a movie about dinosaurs. This can’t possibly go wrong.

Sure enough, a pesky asteroid comes along to ruin everyone’s day.

Now, this is obviously not the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, since (spoilers) the characters survive the ordeal. It is also much to small, with the explosion not being nearly devastating enough for an Earth killer (the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs is thought to have been about the size of MT EVEREST!!!)

Explosion in the movie…

…vs. how it should actually look.

Dang!

After a moment of calm when the asteroid hits, the impact finally hits them, and all hell breaks loose.

This scene used to LEGIT scare me. Whenever it would play I would run into another room until the scene was over. It was years before I finally mustered up the bravery to sit through the entire thing. I think it was because at the time I was really afraid of ‘end of the world’ prospects. Anything about asteroids hitting the earth or global warming or nuclear disasters or terrorism or the Apocalypse would give me nightmares. And for some reason, around my childhood everyone was talking about that stuff. It just made me super paranoid, and made scenes like this even scarier.

And even without all that, this scene is still pretty freaking scary.

Aladar tries to gather up his family and runaway from the incoming onslaught of fire and brimstone.

 

Like I said, this is still a comparatively small impact.

Aladar runs to the end of the island, with a giant cliff leading off into the ocean in his way. The explosion is still on his tail.

What does he do? He jumps.

And the explosion kind of just stops there.

YOU MISSED! HOW COULD YOU MISS?! HE WAS THREE FEET IN FRONT OF YOU!!!

Aladar lands in the water, but can’t put his head above the surface because of the super-heated fire ball that must be currently engulfing the-

Oh, I guess he can. Screw logic.

Well, I guess there is no way this scene can make sense and still have the characters surviving because, you know, it’s a freaking asteroid impact!

All things considered, they still got off rather easy.

Anyway, Aladar makes it onto the mainland, with only Plio, Yar, Zini and Plio’s daughter Suri surviving. The land, which used to be green and vibrant, is now a barren wasteland. After a bit of wandering, they meet up with some friendly Velociraptors.

Since raptors were small predators that probably mostly fed on prey their own size, and Iguanodon was the size of an elephant, Aladar doesn’t have anything to worry about right?

RAAAAA!!!!

Oh yeah, this is Hollywood, were dinosaurs the size of poodles can take down creatures the size of trucks if they work together. I guess that means a pack of foxes can take down a rhino if they really wanted to.

But, fossils of the genus Canis lupus have suggested a pack hunting lifestyle, so it would make sense if other member of the canine family also hunted in packs. 

That’s a future paleontologist defending his depiction of foxes hunting rhinos because wolves were discovered to hunt in packs. Kind of like how today we depict Velociraptor taking down huge prey because Deinonychus may have done so? It’s social commentary. Get it?

Aladar runs from the pack of super persistent raptors, when the predators suddenly run away. Aladar finds the reason for the fear; he get’s caught up in a huge herd of migrating dinosaurs, thus meeting his kind for the first time.

Going the opposite direction in one way traffic. That’s a recipe for disaster.

I’ll go on to say that this is a pretty cool scene as well. The music score here is excellent as well, and it’s cool to see all the dinosaurs too.

We find out that the dinosaur herd is ruled by a totalitarian leader named Kron, a dinosaur who I think is also supposed to be an Iguanodon but comes across as more of an Muttaburrasaurus or Altirhinus to me.

You guys see it too, right?

The only reason we as an audience is sure he’s an Iguanodon is because his sister Neera is obviously one.

You know, of the uncanny valley human lipped variety.

Apparently Kron is a big supporter of extremist Darwinism philosophy (and being a dinosaur, I guess that makes sense) and believes that the strong shouldn’t have to wait for the weak. This is to the detriment of our three new characters, a couple of old farts and their pet.

We have Eema, an elderly sassy black Styracosaurus wait what?

+

=

Oh yeah, she has a beak, and they seemed to animate her talking just fine.

Uhh, imagine a ceratopsian without a beak. Disgusting!

We also have Baylene, an elderly proper British Brachiosaurus wait what?

+

=

Alrighty then.

Lastly, we’ve got Earl, Eema’s Ankylosaurus that she treats like a dog wait what?

+

=

This movie has made some really weird characterization decisions.

So, why does Earl act like a dog when all the other dinosaurs are shown to be capable of speech, or at least capable of understanding each other?

Hmm, you might be on to something there. That’s it. There’s no point to critical thinking. ANARCHY!!!

Anyway, Aladar takes a liking to these weirdos and asks Kron to slow the herd down a bit to accommodate. Kron scoffs at such an idea. “Let the weak set the pace you say? Next you’ll be asking me to feed the children or be pleasant.

He doesn’t really say that, but he might as well. Kron is your typical hard nosed obvious antagonist, who’s every line is written so you can hate him more and more. Now, a character like this can be interesting, but they don’t pull it off here. He’s bland as far as most villains go. He does have a couple of cool and genuinely threatening moments, but otherwise he’s a bore.

We find out that the herd is heading toward the Nesting Grounds, the place that they’re going to raise their babies and where there is lots of green food and water and yes it’s basically the Great Valley. Everyone has made that joke. I guess there are very few stories you can tell with dinosaurs, huh?

Well, Aladar decides to join the herd to help out the elderly dinosaurs because, you know, he’s nice like that. The next morning Zini tries to set Aladar up with Neera, whom I should remind you is Kron’s sister. Aladar has enough sense to know that hitting on her is probably akin to suicide, but Zini think’s he just needs help. In his words : “You need a little help from the Love Monkey.”

The Love Monkey? THE LOVE MONKEY?! OMG someone got paid to write this. People, this is a multi-million dollar movie from a multi-billion dollar company. Yet somebody wrote this line and it made it to the final cut. RU KIDDING ME??!!!!

Have I mentioned the dialogue in this movie is insufferable?

(Funny story, this line used to bug me as a kid not because it is horribly written, but because lemurs were not monkeys. I really had my priorities in line back then.)

Zini makes wolf whistles and versions of that growling thing you see douche bags in movies do when they see a hot piece. Neera thinks Aladar did it, and calls him a ‘jerk-osaurus’.

So, they had the suffix ‘saurus’, stemming from the Latin word that means lizard, in their dinosaur vocabulary?

I have a feeling a joke like that shouldn’t translate very well.

Or it could just be lazy writing. Yeah, I’ll go with that.

Alright, lets wash out that bit of terrible writing with the coolest music piece in the entire film! In the scene, the herd begin’s it’s trek across the desert to reach the coveted Nesting Grounds. And the music is awesome. It’s this weird mix-mash of African and maybe vaguely Native American and Middle Eastern music styles a modern orchestra, but whatever it is, it makes you feel hot.

Like a desert, I mean.

I don’t know what it is. The drums, the vocals, the beat, everything about it is amazing.

Now, I personally think the music stands out best when you listen to it on it’s own, so here is a link to the soundtrack version.

The scene itself is pretty cool too. The cinematography is great, and so is the atmosphere. It is ruined a couple times with dialogue, however. You know what, I think I know this movie’s problem. When no one is talking, it’s great, but whenever someone open’s their mouth, it slips back into mediocrity. Whenever someone talks it’s either insufferable or boring!

Anyway, the herd comes to a place where they think there is going to be water, but it turns out that the entire lake bed has dried up. Kron tells the entire herd to keep on moving, while Neera tells him that if they don’t find water they’ll lose half the herd. So he responds that they’ll save the half that deserves to live.

You know, he could be less of a jerk about it, but otherwise he’s absolutely right! If there is no water, what can they do about it? The best they can hope for is to make it to the Nesting Grounds as soon as possible. Lollygagging would put the entire herd at risk. It may not be the ideal decision, but it’s the best for a bad situation.

Now, I’m not a social Darwinist. I am always willing to help someone who is in need of my assistance. But in the end, this is a survival situation. Tough choices have to be made. Not everything is going to have a clear cut answer. And whatever you do, sometimes people are going to get hurt. But there is nothing you can do about it. I know that extremism is not the answer, and even in a survival situation you should care for others needs. But this isn’t throwing people out because they are old. This is something he can’t control, and him making the best bad decision. And when things are tough, someone is going to have to do those things.

I hate it when a movie where the evil jerk is the only one who makes sense!

However, when Baylene begins to walk on the dry lake bed, the group discovers that the lake is still there, just covered in a layer of sand. All they have do do is dig into the dirt, press their foot into it, and they will have water.

OK, so it was a good idea that they waited a little bit to investigate.

Meanwhile, Kron’s second in command Bruton and a random dinosaur we don’t care about are scoping the perimeter looking for water, when they suddenly get attacked by Carnotaurus’. It seemed that the predators have been following them (I guess a huge herd of dinosaurs in a flat desert leaving trails of footprints, feces and dead bodies is pretty easy to track).

Back with the herd, Neera notices Aladar helping a couple of young Iguanodon’s out. Neera wonders why he’s so nice to everyone and helps out, to which he responds “What else would I do. Leave them behind?” Neera shirks back at this, since the herd has left lots of members behind before. She obviously is used to her brother’s philosophy, but Aladar responds that if everyone helps each other out, they all stand a chance to getting where they need to go.

Now, if my earlier comments on this situation made me sound like a social Darwinist, trust me I’m not. I don’t have the guts to be one. I’m pretty on board with Aladar here. Working together will help as many people possible to survive, while Kron’s extremist viewpoints are too much. But still, this is a survival situation. If Kron wasn’t so extreme, he would be right in a lot of his decisions. The only reason he’s the bad guy really is because he acts like such a jerk.

Well, I guess abandoning the elderly because they slow you down would give you that image.

Speaking of Kron, he finds out from Bruton that there are Carnotaurs coming. He is surprised, claiming they’ve never come this far north and WAIT A MINUTE?!!

Movie, are you serious?

No, no, you can’t be serious.

No, nobody would ever do this. It’s impossible.

Movie, did you just lampshade your use of Carnotaurs in the movie?

Now, for those of you who don’t know, Carnotaurus was a dinosaur that lived in South America, while the majority of the dinosaurs in the movie are from North America. Now, most dinosaur movies have creatures that lived in different times and areas then they do in real life. It’s a staple in dinosaur fiction, and honestly I don’t mind it that much (it only really bugs me if the program is supposed to be educational). It’s the moment you try and justify it when it becomes ridiculous.

I would have accepted it if Carnotaurus was just the carnivore for this movie, no questions asked. I can suspend my disbelief long enough for that. It wouldn’t bother me, I swear. Heck, I’m glad you went with a less popular dinosaur over the overused T. rex. But once you point out your mistake like this, then my suspension of disbelief runs out. Lampshading only works if the audience was already thinking it before the movie brought it up. Don’t bring up a problem the audience wasn’t aware of! And if you do, don’t just freakin’ hand weave it! Actually explain it! You can’t justify it by just saying Carnotaurs have never come this far north! That doesn’t make sense for a few reasons:

1. It’s like justifying a jaguars appearance in a movie taking place in Alaska by saying they’ve never come this far north or having a polar bear showing up in a movie taking place in Mexico and saying they’ve never come this far south. It doesn’t justify anything.

2. During the Mesozoic, there wasn’t land connecting North and South America anyway. That wouldn’t be an issue if this was just another dinosaur movie were all dinosaurs lived in the same time and place. I can accept that. It does become an issue when you bring it up!

3. How would the dinosaurs even know what a Carnotaurus was if they’ve never come up north to their habitat? They would just be a predator they’ve never seen before.

4. THERE WAS A CARNOTAURUS IN THE BEGINNING OF THE MOVIE!! You’ve already established the Carnotaurus as the predator of this ecosystem. It’s too late to go back now.

Sigh.

Well, anyway, Kron tells the herd to move, while Aladar says that Eema and Baylene wouldn’t make it. That’s OK with Kron, as he responds they’ll slow down the predators. This get’s Aladar angry, but Kron puts him in his place. Knocking him down, Kron tells him straight “If you ever interfere again, I’ll kill you.”

 

SILENCE! I KILL YOU!

So, Aladar tries to get the elderly dinosaurs to go with the herd, but they are to slow to catch up. Eventually, they just lose the herd. It begins to rain, so they try to take refuge in a cave. They then meet up with Bruton, who was wounded by the Carnotaurs and was left behind from the herd as well. Aladar, being the good guy, invites him in with them. He’s initially hesitant, having already accepted his fate in death. He can’t understand why Aladar continues to push people with false hope, while Plio states that it’s hope that’s gotten them this far. He then starts to sympathize with the group.

So, it would seem that Bruton’s role in the narrative is to be the arrogant extremist who learns from his mistakes. You know what that means?

Kron is doomed.

Speaking of which, do you think the internet has shipped Kron and Bruton together? Because if someone did, they would have the greatest combined ship name in the history of the universe.

Kruton.

Well, it would seem that Bruton is also doomed, as two Carnotaurus’ corner the group the cave.

They attack the herd, and one almost kills Aladar, but Bruton sacrifices himself to save everybody else. He causes and avalanche of rocks that crushes one of the Carnotaurs and himself in the process. However, one of the predators survives, but is on the opposite side of the avalanche, which has blocked the entrance.

Remember that, it’ll be important later.

 Anyway, the group begins to wander through the cave, but they hit a dead end. However, Zini begins digging through the rocks, and finds light on the other side.

Congrats Zini, you did something useful! Now go away, I still don’t like you.

Aladar tries to break through the wall, but another avalanche strengthens the divide even further. At this point he gives up, and finally accepts Kron’s philosophy. Bsylene berates him for giving up, and then suddenly remembers “Wait, I’m a big fat freaking Brachiosaurus” and breaks through the walls herself.

Now, that kind of sauropod strength could have been useful before. Like when the Carnotaurs attacked.

Anyway, they break through the wall, and what do they find on the other side?

The Great Valley!

It might as well be.

So, I have a couple questions about this ‘Nesting Ground’. It’s implied that the asteroid destroyed the lush landscape that was seen in the beginning of the movie. What shielded this land from that catastrophe? Even if the impact was relatively small, how could this valley be untouched while the surrounding area is barren?

Anyway, it’s all fun and games when they make it to the valley, but Eema realizes that the old entrance they usually take has been blocked by a landslide. Aladar leaves so he can go and warn the rest of the herd, but he enters the cave to do so.

Wait, wasn’t the other entrance way blocked? It seemed pretty solid, I’m not sure if he can just bust his way through-

Oh wait, he can. Thanks plot convenience!

He catches up with the herd, and see’s Kron trying to coax the other dinosaurs to climb up the 60 degree angle rock wall to get to the other side, which is also a deep drop down.

Great plan, Kron.

He tries to get two baby dinosaurs to climb the wall, saying : “They can do it, they’re tough!”

OK, it might just be off delivery, but the way he says ‘they’re tough’ sounds incredibly hammy. I think it would be better if he said ‘they’re strong’ but the way it’s scripted out here it sounds like a 5 year old wrote the line.

Aladar tells them that there is a safer way to the valley, but Kron is adamant on his suicide mission. So, you’ll disregard an easy way to the valley in favor of a way that will certainly get you killed?

You know what Kron, you’re such a Darwinist, maybe natural selection should weed you out! Because you are absolutely STUPID!!!!

Aladar yells that he’s going to kill the herd (an apt observation) and decides to lead the herd himself. Kron won’t have any of that, so he attacks.

MORTAL KOMBAT!!

We even get some thumb spike action in here. If you were a kid who loved dinosaurs, then you know that there was no end of books saying how Iguanodon fought by jabbing it’s thumb spikes into a predators eyeball or jugular.

This image has been kind of swept under the rug as of late, but I think this film probably shows the most likely use of it if it were ever used for combat. I see it more as a weapon between two males fighting for dominance rather than a weapon against predators. Still, as a kid I was confused why it wasn’t used more. In fact, almost everything about the depiction of Iguanodon here confused me as a kid. It wasn’t just the lips, though. It was the fact that I was still used to Iguanodon’s looking like this!

Kron almost kills Aladar, but Neera saves him at the last moment. At this point, the herd would rather take the less suicidal option, so they side with Aladar. I say less suicidal because Aladar knew a Carnotaur was heading their way, and lo and behold…

I’m back.

The herd begins to panic, but Aladar tells him they need to stand together or he’ll just pick them off. The carnivore begins to run toward them, so Aladar puts himself between the Carnotaur and the herd. He runs up to it, and begins bellowing with all his might. You would think the Carnotaur would take this opportunity to take a giant chunk out of Aladar’s hide, but he seems more confused than anything.

 

What? No one has ever defied me before.

Thankfully, the rest of the herd helps Aladar and backs him up, bellowing together as a collective group. I find it hilarious that even a tiny little Struthiomimus is putting himself on the front lines.

Untitled

I’m helping! 

The message behind this scene seems to be if that when people work together, they can overcome greater obstacles than if they were alone. This seems to be the message of the entire film: work together, all summed up in one scene. It’s a nice sentiment and all, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how nature works. Yeah I know that’s nitpicky, but things like this tend to bug me in movies, especially when I was a kid.

Why are you bowing to him!? Their race eats your kind!

The collective efforts of the group wards off the Carnotaurus, but he finds himself some easier prey.

Jackpot!

Kron is still determined to climb up that cliff, but doing so made him a target. Look’s like natural selection is weeding out the dumb after all. The Carnotaur attacks him, and nearly kills him. Aladar and Neera try to fight him off, and defeat him in the most cliche way possible.

Dropping it off a cliff.

I did it fiiiiiiirrrrrrsssssttttt……!!!!!

Well, Kron dies but nobody cares because he was a jerk. So we can still get our Disney style happy ending.

Aladar leads the herd into the Nesting Grounds, and he and Neera start a family (because they had so much chemistry). Even Zini get’s himself a mob of lemur ladies.

Wow, they must be REALLY desperate.

So, Zini gets rewarded for being an overzealous womanizing prick? Does this mean I was supposed to feel SORRY for him in that courtship scene? Because if that was the case, you didn’t do a good job of explaining that, movie.

The film ends with Plio narrating. She says “None of us really know what changes big or small lie ahead. One thing is certain, our journey is not over. We can only hope that, in some small way, our time here will be remembered.”

 

Yeah, I think dinosaurs will be remembered.

So, we get our classic Disney style happy ending. The good guys are happy, the bad guys are dead, and the future is looked upon with great optimism.

Oh yeah, forgot. Extinction.

Now, this review may not seem quite as negative as some of the ones you might have already read. But make no mistake, this movie is bad. I mean really bad. But just how bad it is depends on your tastes. Some may not like the CGI, which admittedly hasn’t held up the best. Others will find issue with the lackluster story, which borrows heavily from other dinosaur films and is predictable even without taking that into consideration (it’s like Hollywood can only think of a few story ideas for a film about dinosaurs). For me, the biggest problem was the writing and dialogue. There are way too many modern phrases (school’s in session, buffet table of love, “who booked this trip?”,  jerk-osaurus, and so forth), and the rest of the dialogue is either lackluster, annoying, or completely out of place. It really took me out of the movie, and kind of ruined it for me.

However, a lot of people really have fond memories of this movie, and I’ll admit I was one of those. There are still some good points in here too. The dinosaurs themselves are still cool, there are some genuinely cool scenes in this movie, and the music is phenomenal (I have almost the entire score on my MP3)! Really, it’s one of those movies you have to see yourself and draw your own conclusions on. If you still like this movie, great! Unfortunately, it just didn’t hold up to me. So I’m going to give this film a score of….

5.9 out of 10.

Well, that’s it for now for my full movie reviews. It was certainly fun, but also hard, so I’m glad to be returning to my old format. I’ll will be taking some time to clean up some of my older posts, correcting spelling errors and re-sizing pictures and junk like that. So keep an eye out for those updated posts!

Join me next time as I return once again to Jurassic World, and talk about a subject I never thought I would in this blog: copyright infringement.

See you then!