20 Weeks of Disney Animation: ‘Dinosaur’

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Dinosaur films were not a new idea in 2000 when this movie was released. Of course, Steven Spielberg had made them them the star of his movie in Jurassic Park, released less than a decade before. In the animation world, Don Bluth had famously tackled it in his wildly successful The Land Before Time, which had the distinction of making the dinosaurs the protagonists rather than the villains. This meant that Disney’s Dinosaur was not the first major children’s film featuring talking dinosaurs in recent years. However, these dinosaurs looked quite different both from those in Disney films, as well as the dinosaurs of Don Bluth.

Read: 20 Weeks of Disney Animation: ‘Fantasia 2000’

Dinosaur was Disney’s first jump into a CGI world. After Pixar’s success with Toy Story, Disney opened a computer animation studio called Secret Lab which was supposed to rival Pixar. Unfortunately for them, this company only was able to do one film (this one) before shutting down for good, due to Roy E. Disney’s disappointment with the animation coming from this studio. This was the biggest surprise of all for Disney; despite a thorough marketing campaign, the film did not do as well as they hoped and so no more films from Secret Lab were made.

In recent years, Dinosaur has seemingly been forgotten, overshadowed by other Disney and Pixar films from the same era. Viewing this film today, it is easy to see why.

The best part of the film is the opening sequence. Viewers follow the journey of a dinosaur egg as it moves through many changing of hands. This sequence gives us some beautiful shots and also gives us some hope that the rest of the film will also deliver. It doesn’t. The characters are not interesting or memorable, the writing is cheesy, and the storyline is not engaging.

Upon its release in 2000, the film probably looked great. Now, though, it looks dated, and not in the charming way of something like Toy Story.

I would only recommend this film to completists or to those who are curious about this lesser known time for animation in The Walt Disney Company. For more information about Disney’s failed Secret Lab, check out this article by Jim Hill.

Live-action remake: There is no live action remake planned for Dinosaur.

Dinosaur in the theme parks: In Disney’s Animal Kingdom, there is a dark ride that is also called Dinosaur. In it, the guests ride through the jungle to see animatronic dinosaurs.

Dinosaur is available to stream on Disney+.

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