The Jurassic called and said we can keep it

Terra Dino is a city of dinosauria. Stop lights are perched by ptereodactyl statues, their museum is all dinosaur bones, crosswalks picture carnivores, and citizens speak with dinosaur puns. It’s cute. The movie not as much.

Back to the Jurassic has a winding history as Dino Mom and Dino Time. Title changes will not save this routine and forgettable childhood yarn. Led by Ernie (Pamela Adlon) – the rambunctious rocket-boarding, fourth wall breaking grade schooler – Back to the Jurassic lets him tear through Terra Dino in a frenzy. Dennis the Menace would be proud.

Ernie’s mom is a single parent, a “Mother of the Year” winner without anyone drawing attention to her marital status. It’s refreshing and portrayed as normal – no, “My husband died/left when Ernie was little” monologues. It allows Back to the Jurassic to always be hyper and enthusiastic even if the material itself is of little thrilling consequence.

Eventually there are time machines. Forget single moms apparently; time machines are cooler. Ernie, along with his sister and a close friend (with a single dad, so score two) drop back millions of years into the stubby arms of a maternally proud female T-Rex. Sometimes she talks, sometimes she doesn’t, although with Melanie Griffith’s disastrously disinterested performance, it’s better if she only roars.

Harmlessly overactive as Back to the Jurassic can be, the story amounts to little.

Cue adventures in jungles and underground volcanoes. It’s predictable. There are hungry carnivorous villains who need land (there’s not enough?) and a bouncy dino sidekick for the kids in Dodger (Rob Schneider) who is as intrusive as Poochie was on an iconic episode of The Simpsons. The starring sixth graders are crushed under the lightweight narrative occurring around them.

Back to the Jurassic has a slew of Dove logos attached to the box. Family approved, times five. Harmlessly overactive as Back to the Jurassic can be, the story amounts to little. Lessons learned are few – sugar has cleaner content. This movie is aimless junk food and TV is a better babysitter; at least the target demographic might catch something educational. Not so here. Maybe Dove should re-evaluate.

Movie ★★☆☆☆ 

Freak out @ 33:59

Considering Back to the Jurassic made a run through the festival circuit back in 2010, the animation is older still, but pleasing and attractive. Outside of some weirdly softened shots which are interspersed throughout, Back to the Jurassic is generally formidable. What the film may lack in texture it can make up for through color and resolution.

Scenes of jungles are well resolved. The actual dinosaur age offers splendid backgrounds. Some of the aerial views of canyons are superb. Items such as fur or fuzzy hair are handled delicately, sans any aliasing or other such fault. Back to the Jurassic is clean, merely behind in terms of source quality. That is not unexpected. Note despite the film being shuffled through name changes, this is the first Region A Blu-ray release.

Of more interest is the 3D side. Back to the Jurassic has never been on home video in the intended format. Maybe the studio was hiding the sub-par depth. There are a multitude of errors, notably instances where patches of ground are raised even though other sections are flat. At one point the mouth of a cave is pushed to a forward plane despite rocks clearly creating a path in front of the entrance.

Those few moments of success, typically a dinosaur charging toward the screen or fossils pushed toward the virtual camera, are but a handful. Most of Back to the Jurassic is dull despite opportunity. Minimal attention is paid to the format. Foregrounds are empty. Come nightfall, cross talk can become an excessive bother. Stick with the slightly above average 2D.

2D-Video ★★★★☆ 

3D-Video ★★☆☆☆ 

Remember Dolby Digital? Alchemy does. Both 2D and 3D versions are on the same disc and share the same compressed audio track. In spite of the dated format choice, the mix is active. Ernie’s rocket board swings through the soundfield and a cluttered garage of inventions is always good for clattering metal. Dialog makes frequent visits to the stereos. Back in time, the jungles are empty, while action scenes pick up in pace. Crumbling rocks during the finale fill in the rears.

Lacking is LFE support, speaking up on occasion (falling rocks) yet ignoring dinosaur footsteps and roars. Even the fuel-powered exhaust of the rocket board barely registers.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

No extras unless a set of bonuses for other Alchemy features (including Dinosaur Island) are now considered acceptable.

Extras ☆☆☆☆☆ 

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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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.