When you happen to love any particular subject, you’re willing to sit through just about anything. I love dinosaurs and sharks. Jurassic Park will always be an important film to me, as it was released when I was a bright-eyed 12-year-old boy. I even have the Jurassic Park Builder game downloaded onto both my phone and Kindle. When it was announced that Twentieth Century Fox was releasing Walking with Dinosaurs: The Movie on Blu-ray March 25 (in a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack), I knew I had to see it no matter how bad the word of mouth.
Originally produced for the BBC as a six-episode documentary by directors Tim Haines and Jasper James, theatrical directors Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale and screenwriter John Collee, have completely downgraded the original series’ successful blend of documentary filmmaking and computer-generated dino goodness, into an obnoxious for-kids-only adventure. Only 10 minutes to your first poop joke folks!
The film follows a young Pachysaurus named Patchi (voiced by Justin Long) as he grows up with his herd, finds love in the form of fellow Pachy Juniper (voiced by Tiya Sircar), all while fighting the Cretaceous elements and other living dinosaurs of the era. To top it off he’s bullied by his older brother Scowler (voiced by Skyler Stone). Along for the ride is our narrator Alex (voiced by John Leguizamo), an Alexornis, who tells Patchi’s story to the young Ricky (Charlie Rowe), who has stayed behind while his Uncle Zack (Karl Urban) and sister Jade (Angourie Rice) investigate a dinosaur site after Zack discovered a Gorgosaurus tooth.
The 2D presentation of Walking with Dinosaurs: The Movie is a mixed bag to say the least. Presented on a 50GB disc in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio, there are far more video impairments than you’d ever consider from a recent theatrical release. The biggest issue is an odd pattern that washes over the screen from time to time. There’s no term for it, because it’s not a grain issue — although there is plenty of that considering the landscape is not computer-generated — but the only time I’ve ever seen this happen before is in one scene on the Naked Gun Blu-ray.
Thankfully, aside from stability issues regarding camera pans making the shrubs and trees flicker and shimmer, but noise, crush, and aliasing are never present. Detail is typically razor sharp depending on how much the camera is moving. Whenever the camera “follows” a dinosaur, the landscape becomes less detailed than the dino until the camera stops moving and then the surroundings sharpen again. I have a feeling the 3D presentation fares a little better but I would never sit through the film again to find out. I was only able to spot one instance of banding.
As for the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, you wouldn’t expect anything less than tons of bass as the dinosaurs stomp across your viewing area. Directionality and dialogue panning is spot on, however, there are a few occasions when the horrific dialogue is drowned out by a bellowing beast. The only additional track offered in DTS is Russian, but Dolby Digital 5.1 options are provided in Spanish, Portuguese, Estonian, Greek, Latvian, Lithuanian, Romanian, and Ukrainian. Subtitles are also available in all of these languages.
The included extras are strictly for tikes, and rather boring, even for an adult dinosaur aficionado. First up is an “Ultimate Dino Guide.” After an introduction and explanation of how the feature works, you can pick and choose between all the dinosaurs featured in the film: Pachyrinosaurs, Gorgosaurus, Hesperonychus, Troodon, Pterosaur, Ankylosaur, Edmontosaurus, Parkosaurus, Chirostenotes, Alphadon, and the Alexornis. “Match the Call” is a game where you match the sounds to each dinosaur while a visual puzzle arranges itself as a clue to make your guess before the timer runs out.
An “Interactive Map” displays a map of the world showing where each dinosaur was located throughout the world, offering up information about each as selected from the map. A “Brainosaur Trivia Track” offers additional dino info while the film plays, and a dreadful “Nickelodeon Orange Carpet Dino Rap” is an insufferable minute-long rap about the movie featuring Benjamin Flores, Jr. The film’s theatrical trailer is included along with a “Sneak Peek” section with trailers for Rio 2, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, Free Birds, The Croods, Turbo, and Dragons: Riders of Berk & Defenders of Berk.
I’ve read that the 3D disc includes an exclusive “Cretacious Cut” of the film, which features none of the recorded dialogue. If this were the only offered version of the film it would receive much higher marks. What’s included here is flat-out awful. I know kids won’t know why it’s so painful to hear a dinosaur blurt out “You’re about to get served” during a fight sequence, but it’s beyond groan-inducing. And don’t worry, there’s a second poop joke merely 30 minutes after the first. I suppose if you were interested in purchasing this for your own curiosity, or have kids that are dino enthusiasts, then I suggest springing for the 3D combo pack on account of the dialogue free version of the film. As far as the 2D version, it deserves to remain extinct from all self-respecting Blu-ray collections.
Cover art and photo courtesy Twentieth Century Fox