The egg of an iguanodon is stolen from its nest,
And an island is eventually the place it comes to rest.
There it hatches, and some lemurs cannot leave him all alone,
So one Plio takes in Aladar to raise him as her own.
He grows big as a dinosaur, the only one around,
And commiserates with Zini, whose romance won’t leave the ground.
But meteors that strike nearby incite catastrophe
As shock waves devastate the isle and decimate their tree.
Though one family survives astride the faithful Aladar,
They’re the only ones who make it: Plio, Suri, Zini, Yar.
They are ambushed soon by raptors till they join a roaming throng,
Finding safety in their numbers so they gladly tag along.
All these dinosaurs are headed by the chief iguanodon,
Who is Kron, though I must mention too his right-hand man Bruton.
Kron believes the strongest make it and he will not change his mind,
So he often leaves the weakest and the elderly behind.
Aladar, who thinks survival of the fittest is absurd,
Joins the old, slow-moving misfits at the far back of the herd.
He finds water for the company and woos Kron’s sister Neera,
The most eligible beauty of the late Cretaceous era.
When the weaklings fall behind, they find some refuge in a cave,
Including Bruton, who was injured and too weak for Kron to save.
When two Carnotaurs surprise them in the most hopeless of traps,
Bruton holds them off and kills one when he makes the cave collapse.
All the others keep on going, and they find the nesting grounds,
Which are lush and green and fertile, but a rocky wall surrounds.
Aladar decides to go back to the herd to bring them here
Through the other way, and tell them that a Carnotaur is near.
Kron is none too pleased to see him, but the rest change loyalties
And they stand up to the Carnotaur (by bellowing) with ease.
On the edges of a cliff, Kron fights against the giant beast,
And though Aladar joins in, both enemies end up deceased.
All find happiness (and lemurs) in the valley’s choice location,
And it ends as it first started, with the newest generation.

Dinosaur is a beautifully animated and photographed tale of survival that puts meticulously created CGI dinos on live-action backgrounds, thirteen years before the recent Walking with Dinosaurs made the technique seem new. The first seven minutes of wordless glory rival the beginning of The Lion King, combining jaw-dropping visuals with a marvelous score that is not nearly appreciated enough.

When it first came out, many criticized the filmmakers’ choice to have the animals talk. While this does detract from the film’s realism, it also makes clear Dinosaur’s laudable message of standing up for the weak in the face of a “survival of the fittest” mentality, which is sadly gaining ground in the world in the form of euthanasia.

The story itself is good, though unremarkable, and reminds me of the story of Moses (a newborn is separated from his people, is found and raised by another, rejoins his people, and eventually becomes their leader to the promised land). Most of the effects are nearly perfect, though some crowd scenes and close-ups are very obviously CGI. Plus, why they had the opening Carnotaur scene involve anything other than a stegosaurus (a la Fantasia) is beyond me. Despite a short running time and some scenes and dialogue obviously meant for kids, Dinosaur is more serious than other Disney films, as evidenced by the deaths of several characters. It might have risen to the level of respect of WALL-E had its creators somehow told the story wordlessly, but Dinosaur remains a lesser-known gem in the Disney canon that is certainly worth a look.

Best line: “If you’ll be my bride, I’ll groom ya.” (one of Zini’s groan-inducing pick-up lines)

Artistry: 4
Characters/Actors: 3
Entertainment: 6
Visual Effects: 8
Originality: 2
Watchability: 5
TOTAL: 28 out of 60

Tomorrow: #348: Prometheus

© 2014 S. G. Liput