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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

Week # 52: "Dinosaur"

(Originally published on 12/28/22)



Run time: 82 min.

Release Date: May 19, 2000

Where/when I first saw it: In the theater, possibly opening weekend

How I watched it today: Blu-ray, Wednesday afternoon

I remember seeing the trailer for “Dinosaur” many times in the theater and being astonished by it. A completely visual story being told about a dinosaur egg that gets lost in many streams and forests, getting handed off from creature to creature, all with computer animated characters merging with the real world in seamless beauty. I couldn’t wait for this thing. Disney had finally severed itself from its well-worn formula of fairy tales and literary adaptations with Lite FM soundtracks. With this and “Fantasia 2000” being released within six months of each other, Disney was starting the New Millennium with a fresh eye on the future.

On a technical level, for 2000 standards, “Dinosaur” still amazes. Knowing that Pixar and DreamWorks were utilizing the computer technology to its fullest advantage, Disney had to keep up and do its part to further advance the technology and storytelling while blazing new trails. It got everything right as far as the technology. The dinosaurs here have a certain amount of believability here that borrowed from “Jurassic Park” while the furrier creatures also had detailed and lovingly rendered hair that made you forget it was created with mouse clicks.

In the story-and-character department, however, “Dinosaur” feels a bit thin and flat. Apart from some welcome voice talent (Ossie Davis, for one), much of it seems uninspired. The opening sequence is so strong, you wish the characters never spoke at all and that the meteor hitting the earth would’ve come at the very end. There was so much potential here for something truly special, not just with the technology, but thematically. Still, it was nice to not have to hear any princesses or displaced outsiders complain about their destinies. This has some good dinosaur fights and action sequences to make up for the uninvolving storyline.

It’s too bad the film couldn’t be elevated to classic status, in spite of what it accomplishes. For as Walt often said, “remember, it all started with a mouse.” And now, decades later, it’s still all about a mouse, one that clicks. “Dinosaur” brings Disney into the 21st century with mixed results, but at least they were trying again.


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