Experience what is was like to walk with nature’s greatest prehistoric predators when DINO KING 3D debuts on Blu-ray, DVD and digital June 18th from Well Go USA Entertainment. Painstakingly recreated in breathtaking CGI animation, the film takes viewers to a time before man, when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Speckles, a baby Tarbosaurus, is exiled and forced to flee his homeland when his entire family is killed by an evil, one-eyed T-Rex. Lost in the deepest depths of the hostile jungle, hungry and alone, Speckles happens upon a much needed ally and companion in the form of a young female Tarbosaurus. Together they help each other survive through the treacherous and forbidding terrain. Speckles grows up learning fighting skills so he can be ready for the day when he will return to claim his family’s ancient hunting grounds and become The Dino King.
Asa big fan of “Walking with Dinosaurs,” I was looking forward to another cool dinosaur feature that I could watch with my son. The artwork of this movie suggested a family type experience with a baby dinosaur riding on top a it’s parent’s head, but that advertising is somewhat deceptive. Dino King (formerly called Tarbosaurus 3D in Korea) is a mix-match of kid-friendly fare combined with adult themes and violence that will not be suitable for all children. My son can handle subjects like this fairly well but I noticed that some of the scenes made him a little uneasy although he made it all the way through and decided that he liked it. Not only is the film’s marketing somewhat shady, the fact that they clearly stole some concepts and themes from other movies such as The Lion King, Bambi, and others doesn’t help. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised that this is called Dino King, just to capitalize on how similar the movie is to The Lion King.
Both movies feature a young character that loses a family member(s) thanks to an evil scarred creature whose only interest is achieving complete dominance over the area. Instead of a scarred lion named Scar, we get a scarred T-Rex called One-Eye who is so vicious and vindictive, that he will travel for miles just to try to hunt down and kill the only survivor of his previous attack called Speckles. One-Eye is basically the shark from Jaws 4 who not only can differentiate between targets, but is also so focused that he spends his entire existence in an attempt to destroy Speckles ala Chief Brody’s family. We learn all about this from Speckles himself who shares his thoughts and feelings to us through a very annoying voiceover. The script is terrible and the movie would have been a lot better off if they had just followed a documentary format like “Walking with Dinosaurs.” I’m not saying that a traditional movie about dinosaurs can’t work, but this one doesn’t with some terrible dialogue and some unintentional laughs.
I get the feeling that the filmmakers weren’t sure which direction to take the movie, as part of it feels like an educational film for kids, but then they go and go into Jurassic Park mode with dinosaurs tearing each other to shreds which while cool, it isn’t really great for small kids. It’s like they were trying to have their cake and eat it too and that approach really doesn’t work for this kind of movie. They should have picked a direction and stuck with it as this movie isn’t really geared for kids because of the extreme violence or adults because of the insipid script and voice-overs. What does work for the film are the visual effects which are often quite good. I also really liked the dinosaur fights even though they are a bit strong for children. The environment and the dinosaurs all look real and there’s a lot of good shots that really work well. I think this film could have been a lot better with a different (or at least a unified approach), or at least with a single target audience in mind.
2D Video 3D Video
These 1080p (1.78:1) transfers both offer some excellent transfers that showcases the quite good CGI animation but they are not without some issues. Both versions’ seem to have a limited range of color on display and the 3D version is also noticeably dimmer than the 2D version. While the dinosaurs themselves look good and sport some nice coloring (One-Eye turns out to be a purple(!) T-Rex), their surrounding environments don’t look as colorful as they do. Both versions offer a fairly sharp and detailed picture in closeup and medium shots, but the detail slips some when you view the background environment. Despite its aforementioned issues, I still really liked the 3D presentation over the 2D one as it offered a lot of nice depth to the film and some cool effects. For fans of 3D gimmicks like images coming out of the screen towards you, they will be pleased as there’s several instances of a dinosaur or other things coming out of the screen which does look cool. If the image had been a little brighter for the 3D version it would have had a higher rating, but overall both of these presentations are pretty good.
While Dino King 3D‘s script is terrible as are the voiceovers, there’s no denying how good this lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is. I kind of expected the sound design to sound like a television show so I was pleasantly surprised within the movie’s first couple of minutes to discover that I was in for a surprise. The dialogue (while awful) is clear and the rear channels offers some fantastic surround effects and atmosphere that really brings the forest to life. This soundfield is directionally accurate and the cross channel effects work incredibly well. I really liked hearing the pteranodons flying around the room and the subtle little sounds that foreshadowed events like an egg hatching, or a dinosaur approaching. This mix also offers quite a bit of power to the LFE channel, especially during the many dinosaur fights that populate the movie. This is a great mix and it really adds quite a bit to the movie.
While the audio mix is fantastic, the extras provided on this Blu-ray don’t even come close. All we get is the film’s trailer but at least it is in high definition.
It’s easy to see the potential that this film had – it has great animation, some interesting educational facts, and some cool dinosaur fights. It would have turned out a lot better if the filmmakers had just decided if they were making a movie for young kids or for teens and adults and tailored the film to that demographic. Instead, they tried to capture the best of both worlds and the film suffered for it. If you have a young child, you may want to watch this movie before showing it to them if they are easily scared. Some kids like my son, can handle it but you might want to be present to pause the movie to either answer questions or reassure them. The video and audio quality for this Blu-ray are very good, especially the lossless mix which was surprisingly excellent. It’s too bad that there’s really no extras, but that’s the way it is sometimes. If you are a fan of 3D, this is a fun one to see in that format, but be aware that that version isn’t as bright as the 2D version.
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