Review: 'Walking With Dinosaurs 3D'
Plot: An underdog dino becomes a hero. Rated PG (frightening scenes for little ones)
Bottom line: Astonishing animation, and educational as well.
Cast: Voices of John Leguizamo and Justin Long, with Charlie Rowe and Karl Urban
'Walking With Dinosaurs 3D' review: Effects soar
The BBC series "Walking With Dinosaurs" gets a kid-friendly big-screen treatment, complete with cutesy story and dino-poop jokes, in "Walking With Dinosaurs 3D." Aimed squarely at that dino-crazy demographic (7-12), it pumps a few IQ points into a kid-film genre sorely in need of them.
"Walking" takes care to ID each new dinosaur species introduced, including factoids about what they ate and any special skills they might have had. It's downright educational. Just don't tell your kids that.
Combining striking cinematography of some of the last great remote places on Earth (Alaska) with state-of-the art dinosaur animation, "Walking" is another "Great Migration" tale -- herbivores heading south at the onset of Alaskan winter, hounded by all manner of carnivores and omnivores. But thankfully, it's not just another "Land Before Time." A feeble modern-day framing device packs teenage Ricky (Charlie Rowe) and his tweenage sister, Jade (Angourie Rice), off to visit their paleontologist uncle (Karl Urban) in Alaska. Jade's down with digging for dinosaurs. But Ricky figures he already knows plenty about dinosaurs and would rather play with his phone.
Then, a raven voiced by John Leguizamo gets the boy's attention and tells him the tale of the bird's ancestor, an alexornis. "Alex" is friends with a pachyrhinosaurus, "Patchi," voiced by Justin Long. We follow the baby Patchi out of the nest, through a few near-death experiences and into adulthood as he migrates south with his herd, tries to stick to his bigger, tougher brother Scowler (Skylar Stone) and catch the eye of the fetching Juniper (Tiya Sircar). Of course, there are dino-doo jokes and sibling rivalry zingers. But the biggest laughs are sight gags of the sort you might catch in a good nature film.
Co-director Barry Cook came from animation ("Mulan") and partnered with BBC nature film vet Neil Nightingale. And while the tale they tell has dull patches that may try an adult's patience, the animation is astonishingly real and the approach is just smart enough to keep your interest.
PLOT An underdog dino becomes a hero.
RATING PG (frightening scenes for little ones)
CAST Voices of John Leguizamo and Justin Long, with Charlie Rowe and Karl Urban
BOTTOM LINE Astonishing animation, and educational as well.
DINOSAUR FLICKS: FOUR FAVORITES
Dinosaurs have been in movies practically since movies first walked the earth. Since then, these prehistoric beasts have evolved from animated to stop-motion to CGI -- and given our fascination with them, they'll never become extinct on film. Here are four favorites.
GERTIE THE DINOSAUR (1914) Not long after a public rivalry between two paleontologists helped excite interest in dinosaurs in the late 1800s, popular cartoonist Winsor McCay created the lovable Gertie in a 12-minute animated short used as part of his live vaudeville act. He later released it theatrically.
THE LOST WORLD (1925) The first full-length dinosaur film, this adventure based on the Arthur Conan Doyle novel starred Wallace Berry, Lewis Stone and Bessie Love as explorers finding dinosaurs in modern-day South America.
ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. (1966) Cave men and dinosaurs coexist! And no one cares about such evolutionary inaccuracy so long as Raquel Welch is wearing that famous fur bikini.
JURASSIC PARK (1993) Steven Spielberg. Velociraptors. T. rexes. The most advanced visual effects to that time. Plus Samuel L. Jackson and Wayne Knight ("Newman!") in supporting roles. What's not to like? Well, the 1997 and 2001 sequels, perhaps. Universal Pictures is releasing a fourth film, directed by Colin Trevorrow (2012's "Safety Not Guaranteed"), in June 2015.
-- Frank Lovece