Disney / Dinosaur

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"It's your choice, not your fate."

Aladar: Look, Neera. We watch out for each other, and we all stand a chance of getting to your Nesting Grounds.
Neera: You sound so sure.
Aladar: I'm not, but it's all I know.

Dinosaur is a unique Disney animated film from the year 2000. It is a hybrid of live-action photography for its settings, and CGI animation for its characters, special effects, and whatnot.

The hero is Aladar, an Iguanodon. His egg was separated from his family through a very convoluted turn of events, and made its way to an island. There, he was found by a family of lemurs, who adopt him when he is born (although the patriarch lemur opposes initially). Time passes offscreen and afterwards we see the adult Aladar living care-free with the primates in the island.

Sadly, meteors destroy the island and Aladar and his adoptive family are forced to escape to the mainland. Once there, the main plot kicks in and they join a herd of similarly displaced animals who are migrating through the vast, tractless desert with treacherous terrain and scary-looking predators who don't talk. They are seeking literally greener pastures, a valley known as the Nesting Grounds, which is apparently the only fertile land for miles around. The herd is led by Kron, an old, hard-assed Iguanodon — the first member of his own species Aladar has ever met — who insists that everyone follow his orders even if it kills them all. He refuses to make concessions for the oldest and youngest members of the herd, an issue that he and Aladar especially lock horns thumbspikes over. Eventually, Aladar's compassionate ways begin to transform the lives of those around him, and he may be what the herd needs to reach the Nesting Grounds and a better future.

Supervised by Feature Animation and produced at the shortlived unit "The Secret Lab", it was retroactively added into the Disney Animated Canon several years after its release, as the 39th.


This film provides examples of:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Several of these occur after the main plot kicks in, but the most meaningful is in the cave between Plio and the wounded Bruton.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Kron wasn't exactly a villain (just very selfish and completely stubborn) but despite everything her brother had done, Neera is deeply saddened by Kron dying of his injuries from the final Carnotaur.
  • All-Loving Hero: Aladar goes out of his way to help older and weaker dinosaurs, distinguishing himself from Kron.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Url the Ankylosaurus
  • Alternate Animal Affection: Aladar and Neera crossing their necks.
  • Anachronism Stew: And among the main characters, Iguanodon was from the Early Cretaceous, Brachiosaurus was from the Late Jurassic (Science Marches On, though, via Sauroposeidon), Styracosaurus was from the Late Cretaceous, and lemurs did not evolve until the Paleogene (and the characters' designs are based on modern lemurs).
    • Eric Leighton, one of the directors, basically admitted to this. He spoke about his team "want[ing] to learn as much about dinosaurs as possible", he also admitted that they would "cheat like hell" because they were not creating a documentary. A Disney press kit revealed that the film "intentionally veers from scientific fact in certain aspects".
  • Animals Not to Scale: Crossed with Rule of Scary. In real life, Carnotaurus was about the same size as the average Iguanodon. They're scaled up to the size of a T. rex in the film so as to appear more threatening. Averted nicely with the Velociraptors, though, which are appropriately small.
  • Artistic License Geology: A meteor that size would have not only vaporized everything within 20 miles, but caused waves 100 meters high, set the entire world on fire, and would have started a winter that would have lasted a decade - not to mention flash-fried everything from that distance with 200-700 mph winds at 700 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Ascended Extra: The Pteranodon who's only present in the intro of the movie is part of the main cast in the PS1 game.
  • Award Bait Song: Can Somebody Tell Me Who I Am by Orange Blue. Although included on the soundtrack album in Germany, the film itself (unusually for Disney) has no songs at all.
  • Babies Ever After: The film ends with the births of Aladar and Neera's offspring, as well as every other parent dinosaur who made it to the Nesting Grounds.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Overlaps with Obviously Evil. Kron and Bruton have huge nasal horns, cruddy thumb-spikes, and look like they have been through a lot, but Aladar and Neera completely lack these features. It may be partially justified since the former are much older than the latter, as well as the idea that they've obviously been in more fights. This ends up being subverted as both Kron and Bruton are not evil and the latter even fully repents when treated with decency by Aladar and his family.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: The reason why Bruton becomes loyal to Aladar and his family, and sacrifices his life to save them.
  • Big Bad: The two Carnotaurs.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Kron is stubbornly (though unwittingly) leading the herd to their deaths, while the Carnotaurus hunt down members of the herd to feed on.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Neera pulls this when Kron was smacking Aladar around in a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. Even Kron gets shocked by this.
    • A deleted scene shows Kron rescuing Neera and the two orphans from the raptors before telling that they might not be so lucky next time.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Url isn't a dog,but behaves like one enough for this trope to apply.
  • Big "NO!": Aladar shouts it two times.
  • Book Ends: The beginning and end of the movie mirror each other in the arrangement of the nest, the view from inside the broken eggshell, and Yar's Urine Trouble problems with baby iguanodons.
  • Carnivore Confusion: It might as well be retitled "Predators Are Mean Subtrope: The Movie!" Not one of the meat-eating animals seen onscreen talks. Furthermore, they are each designed to look as scary as possible. Carnotaurs in particular have exagerrately big heads with leering eyes and T. rex -like jaws, emit terrifying sounds without pause and are blood red. (Then again, would you talk to your dinner?)
  • Character Death: Almost the entire lemur clan, several generic herd members (including the entire species of Brachiosaurus), Bruton, Kron, and the Carnotaurs.
  • Break the Cutie: Suri helplessly crying out across the water to the island. She's so young that she's almost definitely never lost someone she loved before. And now... well... they're all gone. And nobody has to explain it to her what it means that they don't get an answer. She knows.
  • Clean Pretty Childbirth: The film has the baby dinosaurs hatching clean. Nobody knows for sure about dinosaurs, but modern reptiles and birds are usually wet and have some residue from being in the egg, until they're able to dry off. A little bit of residue is seen oozing when Plio opens Aladar's egg at the beginning of the film.
  • Cool Old Lady: Yar, Eema and Baylene.
  • Crash-Into Hello: Aladar crashes into Love Interest Neera this way. Except it doesn't stop, and he continues to crash into the rest of the herd, one by one.
  • The Cretaceous Is Always Doomed: Subverted. Since it's a dinosaur movie, we do get the obligatory meteor strike to kick off the plot, but it's not the big one - its damage appears to be confined to a relatively small area, and the dinosaurs manage to survive by migrating en masse to the nearest fertile area.
  • Crossing the Desert: A scene in the middle of the film has Kron leading the herd on a lengthy trek across the desert to a lake. The going is pretty tough, with several members of the herd succumbing to exhaustion, heat, and dehydration. Even the young, fit Aladar has a hard time, especially since he has to keep the elderly, weak Eema and Baylene moving. The only ones who show no sign of exhaustion are Kron and Bruton themselves.
  • Darker and Edgier: Than a lot of Disney fare. The film features several Family Unfriendly Deaths, themes of starvation, dehydration, hopelessness, and plays out like a post-apocalyptic story at times. The antagonists are very realistic villains too: the Carnotaurs and the raptors are just predators desperate for food who only attack the stragglers/fallen members of the herd; while Kron genuinely wants to save the herd and his little sister even if he's doing it the wrong way, making him multi-dimensional. There's also a scene where Eema goes into the lake bed and looks fully prepared to die, unable to carry on.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Eema and Zini. Aladar has a few moments too.
    Aladar: Yeah that's right, keep pushing and shoving! That's very helpful!
  • Doomed Home Island
  • Driven to Madness: Throughout the film, the carnotaurs never attack the herd, instead following at a distance. They only eat animals that have died in the journey and were left behind, or kill those who wander away from the herd or lag behind. However, after one of the carnotaurs dies in a cave-in, the survivor is next seen actually attacking the entire herd, against which it would never stand a chance in a fight. Think about it: the two carnotaurs were never seen apart, and worked together despite all the hardships and trials they were going through. They appeared to really care about one another. The carnotaur that died in the cave-in was the other one's mate, the only living thing left that it cared about. It attacks the whole herd knowing it can't win. When it sees Kron, the herd's leader, on his own, it charges him up the perilous cliff, and when Aladar and Neera attack it and force it off the cliff face, it doesn't try to save itself, it tries to drag Aladar down with it.
  • *Drool* Hello: The young Parasaurolophus first encounters the Carnotaur in the opening this way.
  • Disney Villain Death: Played straight with one of the carnotaurs (the one that's the Big Bad, that is).
  • Dumb Dinos: The herbivores are sapient, but none of the carnivores show the ability to talk and seem more instinct-driven. Even the herbivores suffer from a self-destructive social Darwinism that only Aladar, raised by the lemurs, lacks (at first).
  • Empathic Environment: The storm during the whole cave scene.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Kron with Neera. He shows genuine sadness when she protects Aladar from him. Additionally, the two carnotaurs appear to be a mated couple.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death:
    • Several members of the herd die of exhaustion, dehydration, heat, or a combination of the three. Eema almost suffers this fate as well before Aladar and Baylene find some water.
    • The lemur population of Lemur Island (besides Aladar and his family) are completely wiped out when the shockwaves from the meteor strike destroy the island and reduce it to a charred rock.
    • A Carnotaurus, before attacking the nest Aladar's egg is located in, actually mauls a Pachyrhinosaurus to death.
    • One of the Struthiomimus that dies on the migration is eaten by Velociraptors until all that remains is a skeleton with scraps of meat and organs hanging off of it. Later, a Stygimiloch collapses of exhaustion (as seen in a deleted scene), and is devoured by a Carnotaur.
    • At the end, Kron as a result of him not listening to Aladar ends up climbing a dangerous ravine and is mauled to death by the Carnotaurus.
    • Bruton's is even worse. He gets stuck in a cave-in, and struggles to run out while boulders crash down on him. Finally he buried, and Aladar uncovers him only for Bruton to twitch a little, then die. One of the Carnotaurus dies in the same way, though its remains are not seen.
    • They cut fairly quickly from the Carnotaur's corpse, but the lighting makes it look like it was ripped in half from the fall.
  • Furry Confusion: In a movie where none of the characters are (strictly speaking) anthropomorphic. Aside from the meat-eaters, there's the strange case of Url, a little ankylosaur who doesn't talk, sticks his tongue out and pants and drools, and who carries a stick in his mouth everywhere.
  • Gentle Giant: Baylene is careful not to trample the tiniest dinosaurs in the herd. Aladar is this to the lemur clan.
  • Gilligan Cut: "Look at that sweet little face! Does that look like a monster to you?" Smash cut to terrified shrieking and a demonic bellow as lemurs flee in terror through the jungle pursued by a roaring behemoth. It is, of course, only a game.
  • Grey And White Morality: Aladar and the lemurs are clearly good, but the dinosaurs forming Kron's herd are rather grey, since they follow the merciless rules of Social Darwinism but are also capable to altruistic acts and (except perhaps Kron) nobody of them seems to be irredeemable (see Bruton, Neera...). The non-talking predators are not black since they do what they do only for mere hunger.
  • A Handful for an Eye: During the climax battle between Kron and Aladar.
  • Happily Adopted: Aladar.
  • Hate Sink: Kron, though he's not wholly unsympathetic.
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: The main characters are all herbivores, and the mean herbivore rivals are only trying to accomplish the greater good.
  • Heroic BSOD: Aladar suffers this after the cave-in, feeling that he had let everyone down. But Baylene scolds him for giving up and joins the others in breaking down the wall, and Aladar (whose spirits were restored) joins them.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Bruton, who causes a cave-in that manages to kill one carnotaur and wound the other.
  • I'll Kill You!:
    Kron(to Aladar): If you ever interfere again...I'll kill you.
  • Interspecies Adoption: Aladar is an Iguanodon raised by by lemurs.
  • Inverse Law of Sharpness and Accuracy: None of the Iguanodons' opt to use their actual thumb spikes. Kron slightly uses his in his fight with Alador, and only nicks him (with a slash no less). When he does go in for the kill, Neera tackles him. Trying to fight a Carnotaur is done via tail whipping and tackling rather then stabbing it in the neck. Totally justified in that in order to get close enough to stab the carnotaurs in the neck, they would have to have their heads right in the range of the carnotaur's hungry jaws. Also, an Iguanodon's'' thumb spike is not nearly long enough to actually kill a theropod the size of the film's carnotaurs. A tail-smack is far less risky and may actually be able to knock a carnotaur over long enough to escape.
  • Jerkass: While played quite straight with the despicable Kron, in Bruton's case it's played with. While Kron is ruthless and domineering, Bruton tends to think and be more flexible. He even tries to appeal to Kron's better nature at times. But after his death Kron is not swayed by anything except a beatdown from his own sister. After he tries to kill Aladar just for being right when he was wrong. Yeesh.
  • Killer Rabbit: The Velociraptors are realistically small and slender, and Aladar and the lemurs are more curious than frightened when they first encounter them. This attitude only changes when Aladar realizes that he's surrounded by about half a dozen of them, and then one opens its mouth and he gets a look at its teeth.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The raptors are the first carnivores that the protagonists encounter in their journey, and possibly the first carnivores any of them have encountered. They are also the first dinosaurs Aladar ever encounters, and their lethal encounter with them scares them into joining the herd to avoid them.
  • Last Fertile Region: The Nesting Grounds
  • Last of Her Kind: Baylene the Brachiosaurus. Justified in that this is the Cretaceous, and Brachiosaurus vanished during the Jurassic period before.
  • Make Way for the New Villains: The Velociraptors are the first antagonists encountered by Aladar, until halfway through the film when the two Carnotaurs introduced scare them off.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The herd when they reach the lake they've been migrating to and it's all dried up.
  • The Migration: The primary focus of the film, best seen at the midpoint during the desert crossing.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Carnotaurus was only found in South America, yet somehow shows up to hunt a bunch of Northern Hemisphere dinosaurs. However, this is arguably justified or at least lampshaded, as Kron is surprised to hear carnotaurs attacked Bruton, as 'they never come this far north' — although that doesn't explain how they've managed to cross the sea that separated the two continents at the time. The Koolasuchus (South Pole) and Oviraptor, Talarurus and Velociraptor (Mongolia) seem more out of place on North America.
  • Morality Pet: Neera is this to her brother.
  • Moses in the Bulrushes: Aladar, though his separation from his birth family was accidental.
  • Most Writers Are Primates: The reason given as to why there are modern-day lemurs in the movie is because Disney thought people needed something cute and human-like to relate to in a movie about dinosaurs. Really.
  • Oh Crap!: Kron when he flees from the Carnotaur and realizes that the ravine is too hard to climb.
  • The Outside World: While still in the egg, the iguanodon Aladar gets abducted to the remote island of the lemurs, where he hatches and is adopted. However, a horrific meteor shower obliterates the island, compelling Aladar and his lemur "family" to explore the mainland, just in time for the seasonal dinosaur migration.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Zini.
  • Prehistoria: Critters from Triassic to Recent Period show up, but at least we don't have the stock volcano-filled, hellish landscape.
  • Prehistoric Monster: Only Carnotaurs and Raptors qualify as this. All the other animals either have human-like intelligence or are portrayed in a realistic, docu-like way. Though Kron's and Bruton's look was modified to make them more menacing. However, when you really stop to think about it, the predators weren't just mean, they were starving to death and desperate. Normally Velociraptors wouldn't attack something Aladar's size, but they were hungry enough to risk getting flattened if it meant they could eat. The carnotaurs weren't just monsters, either; they were smart enough to only attack dinosaurs that had lagged behind the herd. The one carnotaur that turns into the Big Bad appears to have been Driven to Madness when its mate is crushed to death and attacks the entire herd.
  • The Promised Land: The Nesting Grounds goes with this as well.
  • Ptero Soarer: Maybe this has been the only real aversion in Fictionland.
  • Raptor Attack: Was almost made an aversion if it hadn't been for the fact the Velociraptor lack feathers. But then again, Science Marches On.
  • Real Is Brown: Played straight with most dinosaurs, which are generally grey-coloured; averted only with the heroes Aladar and Neera, both have pastel-coloured skins. Baylene has some purple hues to her, while Kron is largely purple and light red. Zini, being the principle kid-appeal character, has bright orange fur.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Bruton, who turns to the heroes' side after being mistreated by Kron and then treated kindly by the heroes. He dies in a Heroic Sacrifice soon after.
  • Red Shirt: When Bruton is ordered to patrol the lake bed for signs of water, he takes a scout Iguanodon with him. The scout doesn't return.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Suri.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: The entire population of Lemur Island besides Aladar and his family.
    • A dead Struthiomimus during the desert trek is only on screen for a few minutes at best, but it holds a lot of impact for the characters as Aladar regards it. One, it's a sign of how the herd under Kron's leadership doesn't help each other out when they're down; two, it's proof that Kron is a hard herd driver who has no mercy for his subjects; three, a long look at the panting Baylene and Eema is a clear sign that they could be next; and four, the sight of approaching raptors in the distance is a grim sign of what will happen to Aladar's family if they fall during the journey.
  • Save the Villain: The true villains might be the carnotaurs, but Kron still qualifies.
  • Scenery Porn: They start with the jaw-dropping prologue (famously used as a teaser trailer) and they never look back.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Besides the lemurs, there's also Pachyrhinosaurus, Stygimoloch, Microceratus, Oviraptor, Longisquama, Talarurus, Koolasuchus, and Ichthyornis. Carnotaurus was made stock because of this movie, as it was this prior to the film's release. Even Pteranodon is an example of this, being P. steinbergi instead of the usual P. longiceps.
  • Small Annoying Creature: Some viewers qualify the lemurs as this.
  • Social Darwinist: Kron, who constantly says to leave the smallest and weakest dinosaurs that cannot keep up behind.
  • Something That Begins with "Boring": "Lemme guess—a rock."
  • Somewhere, a Palaeontologist Is Crying: Unfortunately, since the iguanodons had to talk due to Executive Meddling from Michael Eisner, their beaks were removed for speech-friendly lips.
  • Square/Cube Law: Baylene is able to jump into water, which no animal of that size should be able to do. Averted though generally, as Baylene remains much slower moving than the other, smaller animals until reaching the Nesting Grounds. It's also arguable if she 'jumped' or just reared up to dramatically lengthen a single stride so she could send up a wave at Zini.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: Partially averted. The classic Four Dino Band T. rex, 'Brontosaurus', Stegosaurus and Triceratops is absent. We have instead four relatives: T.rex-looking Carnotaurus, brachiosaur Baylene, a small-sized Ankylosaurus and Styracosaurus Eema, and nameless Pachyrhinosaurus, which are smaller Triceratops with a weird swollen nose instead of horns. We also have several dinos and other prehistoric critters that are uncommon in movies; and finally, Iguanodons as main characters is a novelty. And most of the dinosaurs are accurate-looking confronted with many other popular dino-films. Even Pteranodon is another case of aversion, since it was the poorly-known Pteranodon steinbergi instead of the iconic Pteranodon longiceps.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Averted with the Carnotaurs. Their constant hunting is justified by the lack of food in the area, and neither of them go out of their way to hunt only the protagonists. When one of the carnotaurs is killed, the other does the smart thing and drops the chase. Then later when it's corralled by an entire herd, it backs off in favor of catching the lone Kron.
  • Tail Slap: How the Iguanodons fight.
  • Team Spirit: "Stand together!"
    • Awesomely Truth in Television, as this is actually how most large predators react to facing a large group of prey animals, or even just one, that holds its ground and faces them instead of running; big cats, especially, don't attack from the front. So not only is it awesome, it's actually realistic.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: In the opening when a baby Parasaurolophus comes running out of the forest, screaming bloody murder, the herd looks up at the sound. A Pachyrhinosaurus is seen groaning and slightly recoiling that just screams this.
  • Unusual Animal Alliance: A prehistoric version.
  • The Voiceless: Besides the main cast note  and a scout, the rest of the dinosaurs in the film do not speak.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Arguably Kron, although his behavior verges on Knight Templar.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Baylene scolds Aladar for giving up on their quest when the cave-in happens. This is also heartwarming due to Aladar being comforted to hear that he gives the others hope.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: Baylene gives Aladar one hell of a speech when he loses hope.
    Baylene: (livid) Oh yes we were! We're here, aren't we?! And how dare you waste that good fortune by simply giving up! For shame! Shame on you, shame on you! And the worst of it is...you allowed an old fool like me to believe I was needed. That I still had a purpose. And do you know what? You were right. And I'm going to go on believing it! I, for one, am not willing to die here!"
  • Would Hurt a Child: Kron is completely willing to sacrifice Neera's (foster?) children in order to motivate the herd over the unclimbable cliff. He starts out merely not caring if a weak hatchling died in the desert; by the end he's so angry with Aladar that he physically throws the 'little Aladars' off their feet so hard they almost fall off the wall, all while they're crying in distress and Neera is protesting his roughness.

None of us really know what changes big or small lie ahead. But one thing is certain: our journey's not over. We can only hope that, in some small way, our time here will be remembered.
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