Dinosaur is a film with an interesting place in Disney's history. It was Disney's first attempt at a CGI film since Pixar came on the scene with Toy Story. Not only that, it was an blend of live-action scenery and CGI characters, like Walking with Dinosaurs. So, does this animated experiment really work? To put it simply, Dinosaur is not a spectacularly good film. It is largely average, brought down mainly by the characters. They are simply blandly written. Aladar is basically like every other generic film hero, aside from the whole dinosaur thing; the lemurs are incredibly forgettable, being dwarfed by the dinosaurs; and everyone else is generally one-note and just sort of exists to do things when needed to (although Baylene's response to Aladar's Heroic BSOD moment was a tentative glimpse of what might have been). I do find it interesting, though, that the villain, Kron, is motivated in his leadership of the herd by a sense of social Darwinism. While this was likely used to invoke the nature of prehistoric times, it seems to be kind of heavy stuff for the demographic this film was aimed at. The plot, similarly, is generic, bare-bones heroes journey stuff. It just sort of happens without being overly engaging, so you get to the end of the film and realise that somehow an hour or so has gone by without much happening within it. There's also the whole Land Before Time ripoff thing levelled at the film, but I haven't seen that in ages, so I won't comment. So what saves the film from being totally average? Its aesthetics, that's what. The CGI is extremely pretty, even if the uncanny valley rears its head sometimes due to the cartoonish look of some characters clashing badly with the other photorealistic dinosaurs. The blend of animation and live-action also works very well without resorting to puppetry to show closeups. Finally, the score is absolutely wonderful, and I highly recommend you check it out. Tribal music seems to be the default for dinosaurs nowadays, but it just works so well here that I have no problems with it. Dinosaur is a film that works more as a curiosity than an actual film. Representing Disney's first foray into CGI films, it doesn't capture the same magic as Pixar's films do, thanks to bland writing, but its incredible aesthetics saves it from total extinction.
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