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A treat for little paleontologists

  • Published at 04:22 pm October 18th, 2018
WT_Oct 18, 2018

A scientifically sound rendition of ancient lizards that can inspire children to feel excited about studying biology

Walking with Dinosaurs was originally a TV miniseries produced by the BBC. It was made with the intention of creating a scientifically accurate depiction of the bygone era of dinosaurs. In 2013 it was made into a feature film with the same title. This animated film wishes to give the viewers a glimpse into the lizard empire. 

As the film starts we see a paleontologist (Karl Urban) going to a dig site with his niece and nephew. A crow (John  Leguizamo’s voice) soon descends near the boy and starts talking. The crow says to the boy that the fossils his uncle was trying to dig out have great stories.

At this point, the film takes viewers back in time with the crow transforming into a prehistoric bird and narrating the story. The bird acquaints the viewers with the main character: his friend Patchi (voice of Justin Long). We also come to know his brother Scowler (Skyler Stone). Patchi is a small dinosaur with a kind heart and smart brain. We follow Patchi along the course of the film as he faces all prehistoric events and dangers a dinosaur “teenager” must endure to become an adult. 

The movie is crafted with stunning visual spectacles. From the dinosaur scales to the background, the graphic details are excellent. But it is not without its shortcomings. The film had been originally planned without voiceover and it was only at later stages of production that the decision of adding voices to the dinosaurs was taken. 

This creates a big problem for the film’s primary viewers: the children. Only 3 dinosaurs speak and even when they do, their mouths don’t move. This will certainly confuse the younger children and frustrate the older ones. The only compensation is perhaps looking at the extraordinarily sparkling animation created by the CGI artists and programmers. 

Leaving aside the obvious problems just mentioned, the story is still very bland and unlikely to engage any adult viewer. This is truer particularly because animation fans have had the chance of watching a number of great films in the past decade that had both great visual and stories. Especially films like Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, Wall-E, Ice Age, etc set the bar very high. This movie is perhaps best viewed as an educational documentary and without expectations of great entertainment value.

However, the attention to scientific accuracy allows for the film being used as an education material in the classroom. It has a great potential to intrigue an audience of young students and imbue them with a genuine passion for science, something most text books are ill-equipped to achieve.

The film was rated PG by the MPAA. It was written by John Collee and Theodore Thomas, and directed by Neil Nightingale, Pierre De Lespinios, and Barry Cook.

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