Pachiryhnosaurus did not talk. Why Walking with Dinosaurs persists to the contrary is a decision laid on Fox executives who looked upon the material with marketable eyes and financial security.
In 2000’s Dinosaur, Disney refused to credit childhood intelligence. After a breathtaking trailer, which earned such adjective driven hyperbole without voice over, the feature would meander into a forgettable slug of Disney canon. At least the Michael Eisner-driven Disney had sense to apply anthropomorphic mouths to their string of dulled dino brethren.
Walking with Dinosaurs was not animated with John Leguizamo’s squawking in mind. Or Justin Long. This British production updates the early 00’s Discovery Channel educational franchise notable for cheeky names and lumbering, silent narratives. Animators, we have learned, are capable people.
Unless you’re Fox. Then you thrash their work.
Underneath Walking with Dinosaurs’ theatrical resurgence is a carefully constructed, even methodically crafted peering into Cretaceous era dinosauria. Cameras swoon for Patchi, a litter runt whom will suffice as the central lead in this 70-ish minute migration-a-thon. Romance and carnivore scuffles aside, Walking is comfortably familiar cinematic domain.
And then they talk. A lot. They even reference ninjas, as if we should assume a dinosaur with speech capabilities could peer into Feudal Japan before Japan was even its own landmass. Walking would be less corrupted if Patchi began a choreographed Hakuna Matata dance routine backed by fireworks and a top hat clad T-Rex. Fox’s end results are smothered in bowel movements, references to said bowel movements, jokes about bowel movements, and in turn, it becomes a bowel movement.
These are not words of a stingy critic who sits back and shouts how he knows better than executives sprouting money from overstuffed bank accounts. Walking’s voice-less version is not a crumpled fantasy. It exists on this Blu-ray, labeled “Cretaceous Cut,” buried as a bonus feature as if Fox would not admit defeat and display it as alternate version. Despite limited need for transitional narration, Walking is a perky, peppy story design, brought about with ambition. Real world backdrops house believable extinct creatures who are never sullied by celebrity voice work.
What shipped to theaters was book-ended by an unnecessary, modern day pouting teenager fiasco unraveled by a stiffened Karl Urban. Because dinosaurs would not keep a child’s attention, clearly. Dialog – which must be credited to John Collee as the sole writer – is profane in its ineptitude, rushed through scripting without dramatic conscious.
And their mouths don’t move. So it’s stupid, a criticism with enough thought behind it as this whole feature. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Movie]
Stare at Walking with Dinosaurs. There is no escape. It’s beautiful. Since the franchise name first appeared, CG has blossomed into a level of striking realism which adorns the Pachi, birds, and meat eating villains with thickened hides. Tightened line resolution resolves dramatic definition in close, pleasingly done when involved with distance.
Walking will stammer briefly in blending live action plate shots and visual effects. Herding shots exhibit squandered definition on trees specifically. Night skies adorned with Northern Lights flounder a touch with compression problems.
Otherwise, the disc is an accomplishment, a notch down from calling out perfection if still crowding shelves with other animated delights. Splendid use of color puffs up dino hides outside of reddish or ashen hues, adorning them with wicked blues or commanding yellow stripes. New Zealand and Alaskan locations sprout natural beauty with variety.
Walking is not without challenges either including a forest fire which demands purist level blacks in addition to crowding the screen with smoke (plus kicked up dirt). Noise will stray from the source making Fox’s AVC encode precision work.
Sold under a banner which states, The 3D Movie, this dino tale will suffice when viewers are adorned with their glasses. Direction is in full consideration of the format, snapping maws leaping from the front of the frame toward 3D enthusiasts. Images are notably bright with considerable contrast, and when not, moonlight is valuable.
3D action pushes flame embers, flawless underwater views, floating butterfly arrays, and forested depth with natural beauty. Skyward flying scenes recreate a sense of height and rotund creatures establish a depth propelled girth. Outside of the painfully flat human book-ends, Walking is an intelligent and careful display of the tech. [xrr rating=5/5 label=2D-Video] [xrr rating=4/5 label=3D-Video]
Stomping herds will invigorate any subwoofer, adding substantial weight to the happenings to sell their girth. Action is accentuated by drums within the score and side elements which range from rapids hitting the lens to head butting mating displays.
Steep surround use tracks carnivores as they circle, brushing stereos as they pass. Surrounds carefully place these lizards (but totally not lizards) within the soundfield, as touches of ambiance enhance this sound stage. If anything, dialog is intrusive, clearly dubbed over original scoring and the “Cretaceous Cut’s” salvation is a only puny Dolby Digital affair. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
Interactive features locked the Blu-ray player during the review session, offering no ability for escape to the pop-up menu or home. It makes the Ultimate Dino Guide not so ultimate (the content is of no help), and Match the Call is a fizzling multi choice guessing game. The same goes for an interactive map. Select a trivia track to have it run concurrent with the film, skip over the Nickelodeon Dino Rap, and jump into the Cretaceous Cut. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.
Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.