Walking With Dinosaurs was a pretty big disappointment for Fox this past winter. The $80 million budgeted film only took back $36 million in the United States. When added, the overseas totals take it to $125.5 million overall. But, Fox claims that the intake globally is still very lackluster. The film featured computer generated dinosaurs in live action filmed locations. It was originally intended to be a realistic approach just following dinosaurs around but later on it was decided that they should even more “kid friendly” the film and add some voice overs and try to enrich the story with them. What they wound up with was a film that both audiences and critics agreed wasn’t very good at all. So I guess it is with great caution that I venture into this prehistoric tale on my own.
Ricky is going with his little sister on a trip with their paleontologist uncle Zack, who looks a lot like Karl Urban (Appearing in even shorter screen time than he did in Riddick), on little quest in the woods to seek out some possible fossils related to a tooth he found. Ricky feels too grown up to go on this venture, so he hangs out at the car like he’s “Johnny Too Cool”. Well, a bird, who sounds a lot like John Leguizamo, swoops down and begins to talk to Ricky. The bird then morphs into his prehistoric form and tells the tale of a Justin Long-esque dinosaur named Patchi. We learn all about Patchi’s upbringing, other dinosaurs and witness a plenty amount of migration.
I’ll start with the one compliment I have. Walking With Dinosaurs is a great achievement in computer graphics. Every dinosaur was a believable living breathing creature. They looked great, almost to that “touchable” level. However, it helps that there were no humans or modern day trappings to contrast to them to see how actually good they were. But, it is as it is, and it’s quite great to look at. So, right there is something that’s good about this movie.
Other than that, this movie kinda…well…it stinks. It’s a got a Look Who’s Talking style of approach with its characters. It almost feels as if this was decided upon last minute that they should have the dinosaurs speak. Some of the story points seem kind of forced, as to make something of what’s going on on-screen where there may have been no intention previously. It also doesn’t help that (an actor I do like) John Leguizamo provides an incredibly annoying narration to go over the whole thing. The way the dialogue and stuff is presented, it’s also hard to discern sometimes between what is narration and what is a character speaking.
This film is primarily about one dinosaur coming of age during a migration. It’s called Walking With Dinosaurs and holy crap does it live up to its name. Most of this movie is just watching dinosaurs walk the land and occasionally stopping to talk or running into another dinosaur. On paper I’m sure it could sound adventurous and maybe sort of fun, but here its quite a slug and incredibly uninteresting as the character story doesn’t help by being typical and route. Aside from marveling at some good CG, there was nothing here to keep that captivation or interesting and became extremely boring, making an 87 minute feature feel like 2 hours.
Ultimately this film feels like a glorified version of a feature you would see in a children’s museum. It can’t decide sometimes whether it wants to be a teaching tool or if it wants to be a movie throughout. The only audience this is going to work for is very young children, but I’d imagine once they’d get past 1st grade that this movie might not even interest them anymore. Your best bet to get a taste of this movie would be to watch a trailer or clips of it in HD. Other than that, there’s truly nothing to see here. Do not walk “with” the dinosaurs.
Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2:39.1
Clarity/Detail: Watching dinosaurs roam across the land may be dull, but this picture is quite outstanding. Detail is super high as you can make out every scaly or dirty detail on the surface of the dinosaurs. Also the environments, such as grass and water provide a very lifelike polish. The movie stinks, but this image is awesome!
Depth: There a grand 3 dimensional feel not just in distance, but regarding objects and beings themselves. With such a highly detailed CG dominated picture you can help but get a grand sense of scale and depth.
Black Levels: The black levels are nice a varied. Night time and shaded scenes mask little to no detail at all.
Color Reproduction: Colors aren’t incredibly striking, but they aren’t intended to be. This gives a much more natural and real approach, rather than sort of dazzling (although it does from time to time).
Flesh Tones: The little bit we get of humans is consistent and detailed. If we’re talking CG dinos, that’s easy, its looks great because its all artificially manufactured.
Noise/Artifacts: None witnessed during this review.
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian DTS 5.1, Estonian Dolby Digital 5.1, Greek Dolby Digital 5.1, Latvian Dolby Digital 5.1, Lithuanian Dolby Digital 5.1, Romanian Dolby Digital 5.1, Ukrainian Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Estonian, Greek, Latvian, Lithuanian, Romanian, Russian, Ukrainian
Dynamics: This is a good track that is ultimately struck down by the stupid voice-overs that rather plague this film. But, when we’re allowed to hear the effects and the like they are clean, crisp and quite well defined.
Low Frequency Extension: Dino foot stomping, battles and roars definitely made some solid use of my subwoofer here. Not room shaking good, but solid enough to announce it’s presence.
Surround Sound Presentation: The speakers are mostly used for ambient sounds and score. The highlight though is during the forest fire where it creates a true sense of environment.
Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is clean and crisp, but the problems here lie in the source, as everything sounds like a voice over narration instead of natural dialogue in the sense of its environment. Much akin to a John Travolta epic like Look Who’s Talking Too.
This release comes with a DVD copy and Digital Copy of the film. Also, I swear Ryan Reynolds is narrating all the bonus features. I’m sure its not him, but boy does it sound like him.
Ultimate Dino Guide (HD, 1:07) – This features an introduction for this feature which is an interactive learning tool that features a clip about the dinosaurs in the movie along with clickables and information graphs and such.
- Pachyrhinosaurus (HD, 4:03)
- Gorgosaurus (HD, 1:57)
- Hesperonychus (HD, 1:18)
- Troodon (HD, 2:05)
- Pterosaur (HD, 1:39)
- Ankylosaur (HD, 1:09)
- Edmontosaurus (HD, 1:55)
- Parksosaurus (HD, 1:08)
- Chirostenotes (HD, 1:10)
- Alphadon (HD, 1:23)
- Alexornis (HD, 2:18)
Match The Call – A game where you hear a dinosaur’s sound, then try and match it with the picture of the correct dinosaur.
Interactive Map – A clickable map that gives out info on the dinosaurs, territories and time periods of the prehistoric era.
Dinosaur Trivia Track – A subtitle track that plays trivia for the film as you watch it.
Nickelodeon Orange Carpet Rap (HD, 1:01) – A kid, maybe a Nickelodeon star (I dunno), raps a short song for the film.
Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:23)
Sneak Peeks – Rio 2, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Free Birds, The Croods, Turbo, Dragons: Riders Of Berk & Defenders Of Berk
While I couldn’t find much appreciation for the film itself, Fox provides Walking With Dinosaurs (aka the prehistoric Look Who’s Talking Now…but Justin Long is no Bruce Willis) with a fantastic presentation. The 3D release of this film actually includes a feature where you can turn the voices of the dinosaurs off. It’s almost as if Fox is admitting that, “yeah, they do suck”. The film is intended for young…young children and thus the bonus materials provide plenty of learning experiences for them to interact with. Although, I think this is a film they will quickly outgro and move on to better things. While this film was probably hoping to become a modern The Land Before Time, it fails on being boring and annoying at the same time. I’d say this one really is for kids only.