Walking with Dinosaurs (2013)

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Walking with Dinosaurs was originally a TV miniseries produced by the BBC. It was made with the intention of creating a scientifically accurate depiction of the bygone era of dinosaurs. In 2013, it was made into a feature film with the same title. This animated film was to give the viewers a glimpse into the lizard era.

As the movie starts, we see a palaeontologist (Karl Urban) going to a dig site with his niece and nephew. A crow (John Leguizamo’s voice) soon descends near the boy and starts talking. The crow says to the boy that these fossils his uncle trying to dig out have great stories.

At this point, the film takes us backward through time and the crow transform into a prehistoric bird and start narrating the story. The bird acquaints the viewers with the central character: his friend Patchi (voice of Justin Long). We also come to know his brother Scowler (Skyler Stone). Patchi is a small dinosaur with a kind heart and smart brain. We follow Patchi along the course of the movie as he faces all prehistoric events and dangers a dinosaur “teenager” must endure to become an adult.

The movie is crafted with stunning visuals. From the dinosaur scales to the background all have excellent graphic details. But it is not without its shortcoming. The film had been originally planned without voice-over, and it was only in the later stage of the production the decision of adding voice to the dinosaurs was made.

This creates a big problem for the film’s primary viewers: the children. Only 3 dinosaurs speak and even when they speak their mouths don’t move. This will certainly confuse the younger children and frustrate the older ones. The only compensation is perhaps looking at the extraordinary sparkling animation created by the CGI artists and programmers.

Leaving aside the obvious problems just mentioned, the story is still very bland and unlikely to engage any adult viewer. This is true particularly because the animation fans have had the chance of watching many great films in the past decade that had both great visual and stories. Especially films like Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., Wall-E, Ice Age, etc. set the bar quite high. This movie is perhaps best viewed as an educational documentary and without expectations of great entertainment value.

The film was rated PG by the MPAA. It was written by John Collee and Theodore Thomas, and directed by Neil Nightingale, Pierre De Lespinios, and Barry Cook.