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Laramie Movie Scope: Dinosaur

A fantastic-looking fable of another age

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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May 22, 2000 -- Computer animation just keeps getting better and better, what started with Disney's "Tron" in 1982 reaches a whole new level with "Dinosaur" in the year 2000. I never really thought of Disney as being on the cutting edge of technology, but I guess it is. Walt Disney himself was a modernist, but at the company's two big theme parks, that theme has been tossed out. This movie, however, takes full advantage of modern technology to tell a tale older than history. It is an odd mix.

The visual effects are simply stunning in this tale of a rag-tag group of dinosaurs trying to escape extinction after a meteor wipes out most of their habitat. All of the tell-tale signs of a Disney cartoon are there, the hero, the villain, the romance, the funny sidekicks, but it sure doesn't look like a cartoon anymore. The images, a mixture of location shots with computer-generated images, seem almost lifelike.

The story begins with an egg, settling once and for all the old argument of which came first, the dinosaur or the egg. After undergoing an adventure of its own, it ends up on an island inhabited mainly by lemurs, who adopt the little creature who emerges from the egg, Aladar, who grows up to be a three-ton iguanodon.

One day a comet strikes the ocean, destroying the island. Aladar and some of the lemurs escape. They find land, but it too has been desolated by the blast. That's when they find the band of dinosaurs heading across this wasteland to its nesting grounds in the hopes that area is still untouched.

The herd includes quite an array of dinosaurs, more species than I was familiar with. In addition to the iguanodons (Aladar, Neera, Kron and Bruton), there is a styracosaur (Eema) with neck spines and a large nose horn and a brachiosaur (Baylene), one of the largest animals ever to walk the earth. It looks like an apatosaur (also known as a brontosaur).

The herd pressed on, led by the pittiless Kron (voice by Samuel E. Wright), brother of Neera (Julianna Margulies). Aladar (voice by D.B. Sweeney), having been raised by lemurs, has different ideas. He feels if the herd sticks together, everyone will have a better chance to survive. The trailing velociraptors and carnotaurs (T-Rex-type predators) will pick off stragglers from the herd if they don't stick together.

When Kron refuses to slow down, the heroic Aladar stays behind to protect the stragglers, Eema (voice by Della Reese) and Baylene (voice by Joan Plowright). Kron and Aladar become enemies, even though Aladar is attracted to Kron's sister, Neera. Aladar and his companions find there is strength in numbers, and in diversity. What some think is a weakness, can be a strength. It is a sort of mammalian, anti-Darwinistic philosophy. Kron's idea is purely survival of the fittest.

This film isn't just pretty pictures, although that is the main attraction. It has a well-constructed story to tell. There are no song-and-dance numbers in this film, but there is some violence, in the form of one dinosaur eating another, battles, and that sort of thing. I didn't think it was all that intense, but parents ought to know about it. Mostly, this is just a great-looking cartoon that looks a lot like a live action film. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2000 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]