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Review: Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie

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The biggest yawn of the year is this gimmicky 3D film that takes us on a prehistoric adventure with a group of dinosaurs. It’s a combination of live action and CGI animation, much like the 1999 television series it shares a name (and some DNA) with, but here voices are dubbed over the top. And it’s the voices that pose the biggest problem.

The jokes and screenplay feels depressingly American. Though this is actually a British/Indian co-production, it feels like the most American of adventures. I do not mean this as an offensive comment about Americans generally, but it feels like the film companies have meticulously researched the very worst US children’s television (no doubt languishing in the depths of Nickelodeon) and constructed movie that would appeal its fans. The script is dire – and I mean god-awful dire – and full of unrelenting jokes that are either puerile, crude or tragically unfunny. There is an effort to establish a self-aware vibe during some of the conversations the dinosaurs have. Some highlights include: “This is so prehistoric!” and “Hey, one day all these other animals will be extinct”. Hold on to your sides.

The animation is rather poor – almost as bad as it was in the 1999 TV series (when it was excusable and on a TV budget). There are also some attempts to make this film an educational event; afterall, it is produced by the BBC’s natural history unit. So we get moments where the frame freezes and we get told what dinosaur we are watching. This is more-or-less abandoned as the movie goes on.

Though its faults are many, I could forgive most of them if there was a degree of sincerity to the whole thing. But there isn’t. It’s hard to feel worried or connected or to any of the characters here as there is no substantial feeling of threat or depth due to the light tone of the film. Imagine if Pixar had made this. There would have been jokes, certainly, but there also would have been heart and soul and emotion and maybe a few tears. Here you get just the jokes and precious little laughter.

Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie (2013), directed by Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale, is released in UK cinemas by Twentieth Century Fox, Certificate U. 

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