Named after the massively successful six part BBC documentary TV series that aired in the late nineties and in which this half-baked, feature-length film is based upon, Walking With Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie is a live action/CGI hybrid from co-directors Neil Nightingale and Barry Cook. It’s without a doubt visually stunning, with the best constructed dinosaurs since Jurassic Park. Yet it’s botched spectacularly by a paper-thin script and laughably silly voiceover work from such actors as Justin Long and John Leguizamo.
Patchi (Long), born at the end of the Cretaceous period, is the runt of a Pachyrhinosaurus herd. He is young and feeble, unlike his older, meaner brother Scowler (Skyler Stone), whose the apple of their father’s eye. However, when Patchi crosses paths with Juniper (Tiya Sircar), a female from another herd, he discovers renewed purpose, and embarks upon his first migration naively, unknowing of the dangerous challenges he’ll have to face in order to ensure his survival.
Narrated by an Alexornis called Alex (Leguizamo) and bookended by two scenes featuring Ricky (Charlie Rowe) accompanying his enthusiastic palaeontologist uncle (Karl Urban) to an excavation sight, Walking With Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie is a daft, 90-odd minute long docudrama about an anthropomorphic young dinosaur overcoming his fear of the world. At its worst, however, this is both run-of-the-mill and even insulting to its target market of little ones looking for an awe-inspiring tale of adventure.
The awe of the film comes purely from the visuals which, considering how irritating the voiceover and timid story become after little more than five minutes, is a triumph in itself. Cook, Nightingale and their animators have clearly put a lot of time and effort into realising the film’s scaly stars, and there’s a true sense of amazement when the camera and narrative focuses on them and nothing else: for example, a scene illustrating how meticulous Gorgosaurs’ are about hunting their prey is tense and spectacular to watch unfold.
Unfortunately, there’s almost no time whatsoever allowed to truly bask in the sheer wonderment the animation department have put on screen without Patchi making – intended or not – a crude remark about the distinctive hole in his frill. It’s a shame as, had the voiceover been left out like initially planned in favour of more educational narration, Walking With Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie could have been a decently made and informative documentary about dinosaurs. Instead, this is never really anything more than an uneasy, innocuous and easily avoidable anomaly.
This review was originally posted on Cine-Vue.