Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie
dir Barry Cook, Neil Nightingale
scr John Collee
prd Mike Devlin, Luke Hetherington, Amanda Hill, Deepak Nayar
with Karl Urban, Charlie Rowe, Angourie Rice
voices John Leguizamo, Justin Long, Skyler Stone, Tiya Sircar
release UK 19.Dec.13, US 20.Dec.13
13/UK BBC 1h27
Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie
Symbiotic pals: Alex and Patchi

urban leguizamo long
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Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie Considerable technical and artistic skill has gone into this photorealistic adventure about dinosaurs in prehistoric Alaska, but the sharply rendered visuals are accompanied by a relentlessly trite script. It's trying so hard to be funny and hip that it makes the film both painful to watch and already out of date.

As a palaeontologist (Urban) takes his nephew and niece (Rowe and Rice) into rural Alaska to look at the fossilised dinosaurs, we travel back in time to meet Patchi (voiced by Long), a young pachyrhinosaurus and his best-pal bird Alex (Leguizamo), bratty older brother Scowler (Stone) and alluring love-interest Juniper (Sircar). The herd migrates north and south with the seasons, while Patchi and crew have a series of adventures. They're chased by voracious predators and get involved in crises involving fire and ice. And both Patchi and Scowler have a chance to lead the herd.

The story is simplistically enjoyable, except that the filmmakers pack every line of dialog with slang in a feeble attempt to get down with the kids. Young viewers may giggle along, but the film won't grow up with them: this script badly dates the film in ways a more creative approach wouldn't. Although since the animals don't move their mouths when they speak, it would be fairly easy to replace the audio with something more interesting, engaging and even genuinely funnier.

Visually the film is seamless, mixing expansive landscapes with eerily realistic creatures. The perils are genuinely scary, especially when the 3D imagery lets a hungry gorgosaurus thrust its jagged teeth into our faces. With these characters, the everyday struggles of the Late Cretaceous Period are intriguing enough. So we just wish Alex would stop chattering mindlessly and let us soak it in.

Yes, this approach completely alienates thinking audience members who might actually be interested in the educational material that packs the screen. We all want to have fun at the movies, but humour can be witty and sharp, even with poo, vomit and snot gags. Presumably there was a more sensible script before the producers decided to slant the film to very young children. Hopefully that version will be available on an alternative soundtrack in the future, because that's the film only hope of becoming a classic.

cert u themes, violence, vulgarity 15.Dec.13

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