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Western Animation / March of the Dinosaurs

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March of the Dinosaurs (2011) is a feature-length Speculative Documentary film made by ITV. It tells the story of two different dinosaur youngsters: Scar, a small Edmontosaurus trying to keep up with his herd on their long journey south; and Patch, a sub-adult Troodon who struggles to survive and find a mate in the freezing wilderness of the North Pole.

Its complete imagery has been created with the help of CGI, as opposed to many similar programs that use real-life environments and only CGI the animals. The film features no cut-away scenes or any talking heads, but instead (much like the famed Walking with Dinosaurs) focuses on telling a story through its visuals and narration provided by Stephen Fry. It can be seen as the first of a new generation of CGI dinosaur documentaries.

Due to the way it "humanizes" some of the dinosaurs, the program is also very similar to Discovery Channel's Dinosaur Planet and Dinosaur Revolution.

March of the Dinosaurs provide examples of the following tropes:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Despite not being a villain in the traditional sense, just a predator trying to survive, the Gorgosaurus’s final fate is very pitiful. After his right leg (which had only just healed from a badly infected Troodon bite) is reinjured by the shoulder spikes of the female ankylosaur - this time fatally broken - the bleeding, fatally injured tyrannosaur limps away to die in his lair.
  • Anachronism Stew: Mostly subverted but played straight with the Gorgosaurus, who lived during the Campanian instead of the Maastrichtian, but that's because the Alaskan tyrannosaur on which this depiction is based on turned out to be a separate taxon.
  • Aquatic Hadrosaurs: Averted. Edmontosaurus are depicted as mostly terrestrial creatures. The herd only ends up in water by accident after the ice beneath them breaks under their weight, and while they are capable of swimming, the lake isn't a safe place for them because of the Prognathodon.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology:
    • The Prognathodon is depicted more like an Expy of the giant alligatoroid Deinosuchus, being able to live in both fresh and saltwater and actively hunting dinosaurs, down to the scene where they congregate to attack the migrating duckbills and Pachyrhinosaurus being a direct homage to Nile crocodiles hunting migrating zebra and wildebeest during river crossings today. Not only is there no evidence that Prognathodon behaved like that, but it and other giant, derived mosasaurs are known exclusively from marine deposits and were much more analogous to killer whales and sharks (open ocean predators). You get the sense that the producers really wanted to use Deinosuchus but couldn't, due to the story being set in the frigid north, where ectothermic crocodiles couldn't exist.
      • The only known freshwater mosasaur is Pannoniasaurus, but it was only 6 meters long, native to Europe, and a much more basal form of mosasaur.
    • While the notion itself that derived tyrannosauroids were extensively feathered has become dated, here, they are depicted as sporting pennaceous (branching) feathers. Though tyrannosaurs are coelurosaurs, pennaceous feathers are only known from the more derived maniraptoriformes, while tyrannosaurs are basal coelurosaurs and would have possessed more simplistic, hair-like plumage, as confirmed by Dilong and Yutyrannus.
    • In an example of Rule of Scary, during the attack on the herd, we see one of the 3-ton Albertosaurus leaping into the air as it blindsides an Edmontosaurus, ala the T. rex from The Land Before Time. Pretty self-explanatory.
    • Incorrect number of claws on the ceratopsians and ankylosaur.
    • The Quetzalcoatlus is a mixed bag. On one hand, for once, it has accurate proportions for an azhdarchid (proportionally short wings, long neck, large head), and is not depicted as a piscivore but a terrestrial forager, but on the other hand, it lacks pycnofibers, as well as wing fingers, and most egregiously, it’s depicted as a bird-like biped, even though the notion that pterosaurs were bipedal died out during the 90s.
  • Ascended to Carnivorism: A realistic "situational omnivore" example: as plants die off in the fall, the ankylosaur forages grubs from rotten trees as a source of food, and Scar mimics out of sheer hunger.
  • The Cavalry: The Pachyrhinosaurus herd comes in to unintentionally escort Scar across the river.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Troodon "seeing in slow motion".
  • Circling Vultures: The Quetzalcoatlus fill this role.
  • Cool Old Lady: The old female ankylosaur. She not only survives the winter on her fat reserves, but she also is the one to finish off the Gorgosaurus.
  • Deathbringer the Adorable: Our lead dino is named Scar, and from the name alone you'd think he was some grizzled and badass tyrannosaur, raptor, or ceratopsid, or at least a badass who can hold his own. Nope, he's a cute little baby Edmontosaurus who got his scar from a predator attack, and spends a good chunk of the movie being antagonized by the afromentioned dinosaurs.
  • Disney Villain Death: The Albertosaurus.
  • Eats Babies: Troodon. The Albertosaurus, Gorgosaurus, and mosasaurs also hunt Scar.
  • Feathered Fiend: Gorgosaurus and Albertosaurus. Technically also Troodon, but those are portrayed in a more sympathetic light.
  • Foreshadowing: As the narrator points out that the sun will not rise until spring, and some dinosaurs will not live until then, the camera focuses clearly on Gorgosaurus's face in the fading light.
  • Giant Flyer: The Quetzalcoatlus that appear in a minor role.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Scar has a "good" one on his head he got from a gorgosaurus attack.
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: Averted with the more aggressive Pachyrhinosaurus, who harass the Edmontosaurus and fight each other over food as fall sets in.
  • Hope Spot: Scar finds his herd. Except here's a huge river filled with mosasaurs separating him from them.
  • Named After the Injury: Scar is a young Edmontosaurus who has a scar on his head.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The Troodon wait for the incapacitated ankylosaur (who has been turned on her back after a fall) to weaken and are almost ready to finish her off when the Gorgosaurus arrives and tries to drag the ankylosaur away from them. He pulls her onto an incline, allowing her to right herself and stab him in the leg. This leads to his death.
  • Noisy Nature: Not as apparent as in some other dino-docs.
  • No Name Given: The Alaskan ankylosaur is based on the well-known panoplosaurine Edmontonia (known from Alberta and Montana) but only ever referred to as an ankylosaur. Possibly justified, since the one known skull of an Alaskan ankylosaur is of a panoplosaurine but it’s unclear whether it belongs to Edmontonia or a close relative.
  • Palette Swap: The Gorgosaurus and Albertosaurus are the exact same model, but the former has silvery feathers while the latter has black ones. Somewhat justified, as the two were very close relatives and very similar in appearance- during the 80s and 90s Gorgosaurus was even classified as a species of Albertosaurus.
  • Pet the Dog: Not intentional on their part, but after being hostile and aggressive towards the Edmontosaurus for the entire journey, the Pachyrhinosaurus are the reason Scar survives the last lap of his trek. (Their presence provides him with food, protects him from scavengers, and guarantees safety in numbers so that he can cross the river.)
  • Plucky Comic Relief: In comparison to Scar's constant peril from predation, starvation, and the elements, Patch's many mishaps are rarely more than amusing inconveniences from which he quickly recovers.
  • Predators Are Mean: A mix of aversion and playing it straight. Patch, one of the main characters, is a carnivore you can feel sympathetic towards, however the tyrannosaurids appear as the default-villains.
  • Prehistoric Monster: The Gorgosaurus may seem to be this at first, but the winter cold puts The Worf Effect on him. The Albertosaurus, on the other hand, are thorough monsters, though it's justified: they're starving.
  • Raptor Attack: Mostly averted with the Troodon. While severely underfeathered, its behavior is largely accurate and plausible, as it’s depicted as an opportunistic small-game hunter who's of little concern to the hadrosaurs, with one of the first scenes being an encounter between Scar and Patch, and the latter poses no threat to the young duckbill. And they don't overemphasize its alleged intelligence either.
  • Real Is Brown: Not a colorful cast, save for the patches of yellow feathers on the male Troodon.
  • Rule of Cool: The Troodon who see in slow-motion, and the Albertosaurus that somehow makes a HUGE leap out of nowhere.
  • Sanity Slippage: The brain-tumored Edmontosaurus loses track of the trail, and gradually becomes hostile to Scar.
  • Sea Monster: One of the last obstacles before Scar reaches his herd is a river filled with hungry mosasaurs.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The brain-tumored Edmontosaurus. Though given his condition, it was inevitable.
  • Shown Their Work: As said above, some animals are incredibly accurate in their portrayals, save for perhaps a few anatomical details. Bonus points for the non-pronated theropod hands, as well as showcasing some new discoveries such as male deinonychosaurs brooding nests.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The film takes place in northern Canada during the winter, focusing on animals migrating south in search of warmer weather and food
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The Albertosaurus that hounds Scar and his companion takes this up to eleven. His feathers catch fire? Mild annoyance. A volcanic flood drags him away? Temporary setback. His pack mates brought down several other duckbills? Nope, he's catching his own food dammit! He's falling down from a cliff? Not going down without its victim. Sharptooth would be proud of him.
  • Temper-Ceratops: The Pachyrhinosaurus are quite aggressive creatures. One even picks a fight with one Edmontosaurus over food.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Troodon who bites the Gorgosaurus in the leg and is immediately chomped and thrown to its death in retaliation.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • The Gorgosaurus, thanks to the freezing cold, the ankylosaur, and persistent little Troodons. It goes From Bad to Worse for him.
    • Subverted with the ankylosaur. She's been turned on her back and is about to be finished off by a swarm of Troodon. Then the Gorgosaurus has his Nice Job Fixing It, Villain moment...
  • Zerg Rush: The Troodon try to do this with the incapacitated ankylosaur. The intervention by the Gorgosaurus causes this to fail.