Release Date: May 19, 2000
Director: Ralph Zondag and Eric Leighton
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures | Walt Disney Feature Animation | The Secret Lab
Dinosaur, which features ground-breaking computer animation of dinosaur characters set in real-life scenery, is another Disney animated film of the Oughts that I never heard of at the time it was released (although it was in the top ten top-grossing movies of 2000, so that’s probably on me). I’ve been on the attraction DINOSAUR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but the ride (which was made before the movie) has little to do with the movie’s plot. The criticism of the film, which I agree with, is that for all it’s jaw-dropping technical achievements, it has a very bland and predictable story. All the same, the movie was better than I expected.
Aladar (D.B. Sweeney) is an orphaned Iguanadon adopted by a family of lemurs including Plio (Alfre Woodward), her curmudgeonly father Yar (Ossie Davis), and her goofy brother Zini (Max Casella). When an asteroid strike (but apparently not the extinction-level event asteroid) destroys their island, Aladar carries his family to safety on the mainland where they join a migration of herbivore dinosaurs crossing a desert to get to the Nesting Grounds.
The herd is lead by by an Iquanadon named Kron (Samuel E. Wright), an autocrat who shows no sympathy to the old and slow dinosaurs who he will leave behind to die of dehydration or be picked off by Carnotaurus. Aladar and his family befriend the dinosaurs at the back of the pack including Baylene (Joan Plowright), an elderly Brachiosaurus and her Styracosaurus friend Eema (Della Reese). Aladar’s sympathy for the slower dinosaurs and desire to have everyone survive the migration leads him to challenge Kron for leadership, while also forming a relationship with Kron’s sister, Neera (Julianna Margulies).
As noted above, what happens next is predictable. Nevertheless, the movie is entertaining, and I’m particularly impressed by all the terrific actors they got for the voice cast. It’s disappointing that a movie this technically innovative turned out to be just an average movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching.