They took an educational BBC series about dinosaurs and turned it into a goofy kids' movie. To be honest, I expected Walking With Dinosaurs to be a lot worse than it actually was. The actual movie is lovely to look at, but dumb as bricks. And full of surprises — including Saved by the Bell-style time outs.
Things I did not know about Walking With Dinosaurs 3D:
- KARL URBAN IS IN THIS MOVIE??? Surprise — Walking with Dinosaurs 3D is bookended in the present day. No, I don't know why. But Karl Urban is in it with his niece and nephew, taking them to Alaska while their Mom is away, or dead. I don't know. Urban shows up, entirely too tan for Alaska, driving a pick up truck as Mr. Cool Guy Uncle Paleontologist. Uncle Cool Guy is all "hey kids, look at this dinosaur tooth!" Naturally the oldest teen is all "FUCK YOUR TOOTH UNCLE COOL GUY I HAVE IMPORTANT PHONE BUSINESS TO ATTEND TO." So Uncle Cool Guy Karl Urban leaves the kid in the Alaskan wilderness (which is just a solid parenting decision right there) and takes off to his dinosaur dig site with the more interested spawn. What happens next? I'm glad you asked...
- MAGIC MOTHERFUCKER. Out of nowhere a giant fucking Raven appears and starts speaking without moving his beak to the kid. I have assume the child and the bird are speaking telepathically, because this is never explained in the film. However, this is the main mode of communication for all the other animals for the rest of the film. The bird (who is voiced by John Leguizamo) then transforms into a prehistoric bird and says "there's a story in every fossil." The fossil glows and the bird takes off, thus beginning the actual dinosaur storyline. I assume the kid died from coming into contact with a radioactive dinosaur tooth.
- POOP JOKES, WITH ACTUAL POOP. I knew there would be poop jokes, but I was not prepared for witnessing one character get entirely covered in shit. Also, there were real human, children in this screening with me (I KNOW) and they did not laugh at this joke. Therefore, I will dub the poop joke a failure. They did laugh at a few gags (as did I) — so not all of the comedy was ruined by emotionless, scaled dinosaur faces delivering zingers.
- TIME OUT. The movie often pauses to spell out the various names of different creatures. The screen literally freezes and you see the name of the dinosaur spelled out, along with what that name means, and if they are an omnivore etc. One time, just once, the movie pauses and actually cuts out a Gorgosaurus and shows you the inside of his brain, and tiny arms. It does this for no other dinosaur. I don't why, I didn't make it, so I don't have the answers. I didn't dislike these random time outs, learning can be fun. But if you're going to pause a movie I wish they would keep some sort of continuity or up the educational mark a little, beyond names and one dinosaur brain. That being said, I did laugh when they made fun of one dinosaur's arms three times, because rule of three, and it was cute.
- SELECTIVE TELEPATHY. Only some of the animals can talk to each other. It's the Land Before Time rule. Predators can't talk with the main characters but all harmless characters can communicate. HOWEVER, this rule changes when they get older because the older dinosaurs never speak, ever. So maybe there are just a bunch of randomly gifted dinosaurs that have the power to communicate with each other through their minds. Maybe it was aliens? I'm freaking out, man.
- LUCKY TOOTH. That tooth Uncle Cool Guy shows off in the truck, it fits the dinosaur they are digging up perfectly. THIS IS HOW SCIENCE WORKS. All the time.
All that crazy aside, it's BANANAS gorgeous. Seriously, this film is beautiful and the 3D is fantastic. Everyone who worked on this creating the world (not so much the book-ended present day stuff or the jokes) should be super, duper proud of themselves. This is some gorgeous dinosaur porn. You can see every feather, every tooth, every scale on their face. There was exceptional care put into the creation of the actual core of this film. Everyone who made a dinosaur should get a golden "good job" trophy, because seriously holy hell good job.
The plot itself is all stuff we've seen before. Runt of the litter becomes the boss, and we all learn something along the way. What? Not sure. Courage is good, maybe? Flying dinosaurs are dicks? I just wish we learned more things, or else had no voice overs at all. The audio helps explain a few scenarios — but overall, it dumbs the whole thing down tremendously. Substitute Teachers rejoice, there's JUST enough learning in this to get away with showing this to first graders whilst you sneak a cigarette.
Should you take your kids to this? Maaaaaaaybe, if they're SUPER into Dinosaurs. But don't expect this movie to teach them anything, other than "dinosaurs eat barf when they are babies." They might learn a few names of prehistoric creatures and laugh a few times, but overall, it's really just kind of crap.
However, I will strongly suggest this to people who like to smoke weed and watch beautiful movies. Just bring your headphones and blast Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" so you don't have to listen to that insufferable bird make "num num num" noises every time he eats a bug.