“Dinosaur” is a technical triumph, the most seamless blending of live-action scenery with computer-animated characters ever seen on film.
Unfortunately, what the film lacks is a good story, good characters, and good humor.
No one is a greater fan than I am of Disney’s recent animated films (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin” and the “Toy Story” pictures are among the best movies ever made, animated or otherwise), so it pains me to say that “Dinosaur” is a disappointment.
The miniature plot has a dinosaur egg winding up, through happenstance, on an island inhabited by lemurs. When it hatches, gentle mother lemur Plio (voice of Alfre Woodard) takes the baby iguanadon into her care, though her father, Yar (Ossie Davis), who runs the tribe, is wary of allowing a dinosaur into their midst.
Except for the absence of Phil Collins songs (and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing), so far this movie is pretty much last year’s “Tarzan” all over again. The dinosaur, Aladar (D.B. Sweeney), grows up amidst the lemurs, and is particularly friends with young Zini (Max Casella). But he longs to find one of his own species, especially after seeing the lemurs all hook up on the annual mating-ritual day.
Then come fireballs from the sky — meteors, chasing Aladar and the lemurs off the island, across the water, and back to where Aladar’s egg originally came from. They meet up with a group of various vegetarian dinosaurs, all migrating to the fertile nesting grounds under the leadership of the relentlessly hard-nosed Kron (Samuel E. Wright, best known as Sebastian the crab in “The Little Mermaid”).
Aladar soon runs afoul of Kron by suggesting a more gentle pace of travel, one that will accommodate aged brontosaurus Baylene (Joan Plowright) and triceratops Eema (Della Reese). Kron is a “survival of the fittest” kind of guy, and he doesn’t like having his leadership questioned. He also doesn’t like Aladar hitting on his sister, Neera (Julianna Margulies); frankly, I don’t care much for it either, since it seems like a tacked-on romance put there just because these things are always supposed to have romance in them.
The best word to describe “Dinosaur” is “forgettable.” Where Disney films usually have some amount of humor, there is practically none here. There are no funny characters, or even characters that particularly stand out. The voice work from Sweeney as Aladar is passable, but nothing more; only Plowright and Reese, as the two old dinosaurs, really stand out as memorable, and that’s far from being enough to carry the whole movie.
The film is not boring, but neither is it especially engaging. The characters are not annoying or stupid, but neither are they very real or special. In short, “Dinosaur” is an insignificant little film that makes you kind of shrug your shoulders and say, “Eh. Whatever.”
B- (; )