Friday, 2 May 2014

Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie

It is said that there are two things certain in life: Death and taxes. That's true I guess, if you want to get a little morbid. But just like life itself, there are two things certain when watching Walking with Dinosaurs: you'll hate John Leguizamo and wish that you could unsee the film itself.

I've always loved Dinosaurs. From when I first saw the T-Rex step out of its paddock in Jurassic Park in 1993, and how it quite effectively ended the life of that shit eating lawyer dude, my love for Dinosaurs was strong. That sense of wonder, awe and respect for them has stayed with me over the years, and whenever I get to indulge in anything dino related, be it through a book, documentary, video game or movie, I'm all for it. In 1999 the BBC produced a fantastic 6 episode miniseries called Walking with Dinosaurs. The series, which was narrated wonderfully by Kenneth Branagh, detailed the life and times of a vast array of different dinosaurs. From the hatching of their egg until the last devastating blow by an asteroid, Walking with Dinosaurs was a great miniseries that blended real life locations and CGI Dinosaurs into a completely believable, real and powerful insight into the time of the dinosaurs. Then 14 years later Hollywood comes around chucking the big bucks around and now we have this.

Out now on DVD and Blu-Ray comes Walking with Dinosaurs, a film focused on dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous period. The film starts out in modern day, and after going on a fossil hunt with his Palaeontologist father, Ricky is confronted by a talking crow. As birds are direct descendants of dinosaurs, this serves as a great way for the film to jump back in time, which happens when the crow morphs into Alex the Alexornis bird. Alex is the main companion of Patchi, a young Pachyrhinosaurus, and our hero of the film. After the death of their father, Bulldust, Patchi and his older brother Scowler are thrown into the big bad world on their own. Alongside their companions Alex and Juniper, Walking with Dinosaurs follows the brothers as they experience life as it was 70 million years ago. Keeping in line with the miniseries and blending real life locations with CGI creatures, Walking with Dinosaurs is aimed at a wide, family friendly audience. 

Here's my big issue with Walking with Dinosaurs. When I first saw the teaser trailer it was pretty incredible. No crappy voice over, nor funny music, no pandering to people who loved The Croods, none of that! It was basically a silent film, much like the miniseries it was based on. But sometime leading up until release, something changed. At some point the studio decided that, in order to gain more of a younger audience, they'd need to add in voice-overs. And they did, headlined by none other than the annoying John Leguizamo. So now almost every dinosaur has a crazy and wacky voice, despite the fact that his or her mouths and lips don't move. Yep, they just have these bizarrely placed voices coming out of nowhere. Well, I guess that's what happens when you add in voices at the eleventh hour. Hearing these dinosaurs sounding like they're right out of Shrek 8 while making references to aspects of modern day life just ruins the film, and I mean literally ruins the entire film. What a damn shame!

The blend of real footage and CGI dinosaurs is pretty impressive, and it's clear that great detail and research went into how these creatures moved, interacted, slept, ate and lived. That aspect of the film is pretty much intact despite the voice-overs, but I couldn't connect to these characters at all. I didn't connect with them because they weren't human, no, instead I didn't connect with them because with voice overs the creators were trying to make them human. It doesn't work. I get why they did it in theory, but kids aren't as stupid as 20th Century Fox might think. Give them some credit at least, sheesh!

In the end Walking with Dinosaurs does have the potential to entertain, but ultimately squanders it entirely. It could have been something truly great, a film that showed us how dinosaurs roamed the Earth 70 million years ago. But this is not that film. Walking with Dinosaurs will make you thankful that they were all wiped out, every last squeaky voiced one of them.

Walking with Dinosaurs drops a massive dino poop on the BBC series and gets a 2/5.


Denis Murphy

Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie at CeX

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