We’re well into 2014 so it’s about time I finally posted a new review. Ufortunately, we’re not starting this year off with a very cheerful one.
Indeed, Walking With Dinosaurs is almost outright depressing. I thought it had finally happened. I thoughtthis was going to be the film that Disney’s Dinosaur could and should have been. I thought that we were finally going to see a realistic and purely visual Baraka-esque spectacle that immersed us into our own homeworld as inhabited by dinosaurs. What did we get instead? More dinosaurs exchanging modern dialogue with obnoxious voices. Only this time they were added hastily just a few days before the film’s release and aren’t synced to any discernable mouth movements.
How is it possible these people could let themselves not only repeat Disney’s mistake, but do an even worse job? Did they really not realize what a mesmerizing film this could have been? Even if the intention was to make it more kid-friendly, have film producers so completely lost their faith in the intelligence of children that they think they won’t be interested in seeing dinosaurs that are almost indistinguishable from digital effects without having them be voiced by, say, John Leguizamo or Justin Long? Good Lord.
Partially based on those similarly named documentary films from BBC, the movie focuses on, well, a bunch of dinos. The story is narrated by Leguizamo’s character, an Alexornis bird, and involves three Pachyrhinosaurus voiced by Justin Long, Tiya Sircar and Skyler Stone. Most of all, the film’s story is about how one of them evolves from an unwanted underdog youngling into a heroic and strong adult.
So a clichéd underdog tale, huh? Sounds about right. Clearly kids will find that infinitely more enthralling than actually feeling as though they’re beholding REAL GODDAMN DINOSAURS in their original, voiceless majesty in what could easily have been the next Koyaanisqatsi. You guys see how boring that last part sounds? Icky. I want my inane, tacked on voice-overs back!
The film is bookended with scenes of Karl Urban and what I think was supposed to be his nephew or somesuch. They are in a museum looking at a dinosaur exhibit together. Strange that the nephew agrees to put up with looking at those dinosaurs all day, isn’t it? It’s almost as if he doesn’t need to hear a bunch of awkwardly dubbed lines of pointless dialogue in order to be interested in seeing dinosaurs up close. Weird, I know.
In all seriousness, though, the film was at least not planned this way. I am aware of that. The trainwreck that some of you probably saw in the theatre the other day is a shadow of the film’s former self. What you saw was an episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 without the comedy, so you can still see the lovely little movie that this was originally meant to be. It’s not all that spectacular and definitely not on the same level as the aforementioned Koyaanisqatsi, but boy does it seem so much more enjoyable than what we ended up with!
I am compelled to give this film a 1/5 rating but I feel that it is unfair to the people who worked on the Walking With Dinosaurs that was meant to be, and can still be partially observed behind all the meaningless additions made by studio executives that understand the minds of children just as much as they understand the value of great art. I hated what this movie became but I don’t hate what it wanted to be. Even so, it is what it is and what it is is insufferable. The final score is a 1/5 with apologies to those who never intended for this.
I’m admittedly a bit clueless as to whether this uniquely idiotic decision truly was a studio choice or a if it was choice made by the filmmakers, but the former seems the most likely. Whatever the case, I’m just glad these fools were nowhere near Microcosmos when that was being made, since they’d probably have tried to make it more kid-friendly by having the insects speak to each other in various obnoxious voice-overs provided by the comedic talents of Rob Schneider and Tyler Perry. Parents everywhere would still, however, be petrified that it would be too boring for anyone under the age of 5 so they’d probably also convert it into 3D to be on the safe side.
I have elected to not even bother linking you to a trailer this time. I believe the following clip should tell you everything you need to know. It might also make you want to nuke Hollywood.