Actors: John Leguizamo, Justin Long, Tiya Sircar
Format: AC-3, Animated, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English (DTS 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Number of discs: 2
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: March 25, 2014
Run Time: 88 minutes
Nature movies begin with photography, and a script is formed from the images that are gathered on that expedition. The narration only comes after capturing the wild on film, working in a kind of story arc where there really is none. Though Walking with Dinosaurs is primarily created with computer generated animation, nearly all of the dialogue and voice-over narration feels as though it is desperately trying to fit in with images that existed long before any words were written.
If I were one of the animators that had spent countless hours creating the remarkable images seen in this film, I would be irritated by the sloppiness with which screenwriter John Colee constructed the dialogue to go over them. It makes for such unbalanced entertainment that I longed for the volume to be turned down more than once during viewing. This is as much a compliment to the animators as it is a criticism of the voiceover dialogue, because as much as I longed for Justin Long to stop talking over the images, I never had the urge to stop watching the film.
Very loosely book-ended with a live-action storyline about an archeologist uncle taking his young niece and teenage nephew on a mission to discover a fossil missing a tooth, much of Walking with Dinosaurs is the flashback told from the view of an ancient bird inexplicably remaining alive after millions of years for the primary purpose of storytelling. Voiced by John Leguizamo (most recognizable to the younger audience members as the voice of Sid from the Ice Age franchise), this bird is narrator and a supporting character in the story of a brave Pachyrhinosaurus named Patchi.
Patchi is the runt of his litter, immediately making him the likeable underdog to his bullying older brother. Being that he is also an herbivore in the deadly world of dinosaurs only adds to this off-balance struggle, giving Patchi endless opportunities for unexpected bravery. There is a love interest, attacks from every omnivore and carnivore that Patchi and his herd come into contact with, and all of this is shoehorned into the narrative with obtrusive voiceover dialogue that never feels cohesive with the images that were created first. The story is bound to be of little concern to anyone over the age of eight, which is unfortunate considering how universally impressive the film’s visuals are.
The Blu-ray combo pack release of Walking with Dinosaurs the Movie comes with a DVD and digital copy of the film, as well as a handful of special features directed at educating and entertaining the target audience. There is a trivia track as well as a guide to the dinosaurs in the film, and a game with dinosaur calls just to keep it all interactive. There is also an interactive map, and footage from the Nickelodeon sponsored red carpet.
Entertainment Value: 5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 4/10
Historical Significance: 2/10
Special Features: 4/10