Dinosaur is a 2000 American live-action/computer-animated science fiction-adventure film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation with The Secret Lab, and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 39th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, though it is not officially labeled as one of the animated classics in the United Kingdom. Originally a stand-alone film, it was not included in the canon until 2008. At officially $127.5 million, it was the most expensive theatrical film release of the year. The film was a financial success, grossing over $349 million worldwide in total box office revenue, becoming the fifth highest-grossing film of 2000. The film received mixed to positive reviews at the time of its release, with critics praising the visuals, but criticizing the writing, plot and characterization.
While the main characters in Dinosaur are computer-animated, most of the film's backgrounds were filmed on location. A number of backgrounds were found in Canaima National Park in Venezuela; various tepuis and Angel Falls also appear in the film. It is the second film produced by Disney Animation Studios to feature computer-generated three-dimensional animation.
The film opens with an Iguanodon mother being forced to abandon her nest during a Carnotaurus attack. The one surviving egg ends up on a journey via several predicaments before it ends up on an island populated by lemurs. The Iguanodon hatches and is adopted by Plio, who names it Aladar. Years on, when Aladar grows up, a meteor strikes and destroys the island, leaving Aladar, his grandfather Yar, his siblings Zini and Suri, and Plio as the only survivors when they alone escape to the mainland.
After escaping a pack of Velociraptor, the family meets a multi-species herd of dinosaurs led by Kron and his lieutenant Bruton, who are on a journey to reach the "Nesting Grounds", a valley said to be untouched by the devastation of the meteor. Aladar and the lemurs befriend a trio of elderly dinosaurs: Baylene the Brachiosaurus, Eema the Styracosaurus and Url, Eema's dog-like pet Ankylosaurus. Together, they migrate with the herd to a lake they have relied upon in past trips. Though the lake has seemingly dried up by the meteorite, Aladar and Baylene discover the water being buried under a layer of dirt, saving the herd from dehydration. Impressed by Aladar's compassionate ways, Neera, Kron's sister, begins to fall in love with him. Bruton returns injured from a scouting mission and tells Kron that a pair of Carnotaurus are on their trail to hunt for food. Kron evacuates the herd, leaving Aladar's family and Bruton behind. The stragglers spend the night in a nearby cave, but they are found and attacked by the Carnotaurus. Bruton sacrifices himself to cause a cave-in that kills him and one of the Carnotaurus, and while the rest of the group pushes on deeper into the cave, one Carnotaurus survives and resumes its' search for the herd.
Aladar loses hope when they reach a dead end, but the others convince him to keep going, relating how he inspired them to do the same. Together, the group knocks down the dead end and find the Nesting Grounds on the other side. However, Eema sees that the old entryway to the valley has been blocked by a large wall of rocks from a landslide. Knowing that the herd will die climbing over it, Aladar follows the herd's trail and is pursued by the "Carnotaurus". When he catches up and warns them about the approach of the Carnotaurus and the landslide's hazard, he suggests a safer way to the valley. Kron angrily challenges and attempts to kill him, but Neera stops him. The herd accepts Aladar as its' leader, but they are cornered when the Carnotaurus arrives. Aladar rallies the herd to stand together and scare off the predator, who then goes after Kron. Neera and Aladar double back and battle the Carnotaurus when it overwhelms and fatally wounds Kron. After Aladar knocks the Carnotaurus off a cliff to its' death, Kron dies from his injuries. Aladar and Neera lead the herd back to the Nesting Grounds, where the lemurs have found more of their own kind. A new generation of dinosaurs is hatched sometime later, among them are Aladar and Neera's children.
- D. B. Sweeney as Aladar, a brave and compassionate Iguanodon who is adopted into a family of lemurs and makes sure that the old and weak can survive during the herd's migration. He is the adoptive son of Plio, the adoptive grandson of Yar, the adoptive brother of Suri and the adoptive nephew of Zini.
- Ossie Davis as Yar, a lemur patriarch whose occasional gruff demeanor is just a front covering his more compassionate interior. He is the father of Plio and Zini, the grandfather of Suri, and the adoptive grandfather of Aladar.
- Alfre Woodard as Plio, a lemur matriarch who cares for her family. She's the daughter of Yar, the mother of Suri, the older sister of Zini and the adoptive mother of Aladar.
- Max Casella as Zini, Aladar's best friend and wisecracking sidekick. He is also the adoptive uncle of Aladar, the uncle of Suri, the younger brother of Plio and the son of Yar.
- Hayden Panettiere as Suri, Aladar's adoptive sister, Plio's daughter, Zini's niece and Yar's granddaughter.
- Samuel E. Wright as Kron, a selfish Iguanodon who is characterized by a strict adherence to social Darwinism and leader of the dinosaur herd survivors. He believes in survival of the fittest, which repeatedly clashes with Aladar's compassionate manner.
- Peter Siragusa as Bruton, Kron's domineering second-in-command Iguanodon who is betrayed and left injured by Kron, and ultimately gives his life to kill one of the Carnotaurus, to save Aladar and friends.
- Julianna Margulies as Neera, Kron's sister and Aladar's love interest with compassionate ways.
- Joan Plowright as Baylene, an elderly and dainty and kind-hearted Brachiosaurus, who is the last of her species.
- Della Reese as Eema, a wizened, elderly and slow-moving Styracosaurus who has a pet Ankylosaurus named Url.
- Frank Welker as the dinosaurs who do not speak including, the Carnotaurus, the Velociraptor, Url and other dinosaurs.
While a dinosaur-related computer-animated film had been contemplated for over a decade, the film finally went into production when it did, as "the technology to produce the stunning visual effects" had come about - a few years before Dinosaur's eventual release in 2000. The CGI effects are coupled with "real-world backdrops to create a 'photo-realistic' look". The crew went all around the world, in order to "record dramatic nature backgrounds" for the film, which were then "blended with the computer-animated dinosaurs". Disney said that the over-$100 million visual effects "make the film an 'instant classic'".
The concept for the film was originally conceived by Paul Verhoeven and Phil Tippett in 1988 and was pitched as a stop-motion animated film with the title Dinosaurs. The film's original main protagonist was a Monoclonius and the main antagonist was originally a Tyrannosaurus rex. The film was originally going to be much darker and violent in tone and would end with the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, which would ultimately result in the deaths of the film's characters. Paul Verhoeven and Phil Tippett pitched the idea to Disney, only to have the idea for the film shelved away with the onset of the Disney Renaissance until the mid-1990s. The film was originally supposed to have no dialogue at all, in part to differentiate the film from The Land Before Time with which Dinosaur shares plot similarities. Michael Eisner insisted that the film have dialogue in order to make it more "commercially viable". A similar change was also made early in the production of The Land Before Time, which was originally intended to feature only the voice of a narrator.
The film's score was composed by James Newton Howard. Pop singer/songwriter Kate Bush reportedly wrote and recorded a song for the film but due to complications the track was ultimately not included on the soundtrack. According to HomeGround, a Kate Bush fanzine, it was scrapped when Disney asked Bush to rewrite the song and Bush refused; however, according to Disney, the song was cut from the film when preview audiences did not respond well to the track. In Asia, pop singer Jacky Cheung's song Something Only Love Can Do, with versions sung in English, Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese, was adopted as the theme song for the film.
The Countdown to Extinction attraction at the Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park was renamed and re-themed to the film. It is now known as DINOSAUR. The storyline was always intended to tie in with the movie, considering the usage of a Carnotaurus as the ride's antagonist and Aladar as the Iguanodon that guests rescue from the meteor and take back into the present, seen wandering the Dino Institute in Security Camera footage seen on monitors in the attraction's unloading area.
George Scribner was the original director of the film, he spent two years on it and left to join Walt Disney Imagineering. But fundamentally, the story was pretty much the same after he left.
Though Eric Leighton, one of the directors, spoke about his team "want[ing] to learn as much about dinosaurs as possible", he also admitted that they would "cheat like hell" because they were not creating a documentary. A Disney press kit revealed that the film "intentionally veers from scientific fact in certain aspects". In reality, the film cheated in multiple ways in regard to: how the "dinosaurs are depicted" and how they "are presented in an evolutionary context".
The film combines the use of live-action backgrounds with computer animation of prehistoric creatures, notably the titular dinosaurs, produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation's Computer Graphics Unit that was later merged with Dream Quest Images to create Disney's The Secret Lab department. The Secret Lab department closed in 2002.
Vision Crew Unlimited provided the live-action special visual effects.
Following in the footsteps of The Lion King, Disney advertised the film by "releasing the opening scene as a trailer". The EmpireOnline project Your Guide To Disney's 50 Animated Features described this as a "smart move" because "taken by itself, the prelude to Dinosaur is an extraordinary achievement (still impressive now), showing a verdant and vibrant world teeming with darn convincing dinosaurs".
The soundtrack album was composed by James Newton Howard, and was released by Walt Disney Records.
- Inner Sanctum/The Nesting Grounds (2:57)
- The Egg Travels (2:43)
- Aladar & Neera (3:29)
- The Courtship (4:13)
- The End Of Our Island (4:00)
- They're All Gone (2:08)
- Raptors/Stand Together (5:37)
- Across The Desert (2:25)
- Finding Water (4:14)
- The Cave (3:40)
- The Carnotaur Attack (3:52)
- Neera Rescues The Orphans (1:13)
- Breakout (2:43)
- It Comes With A Pool (3:01)
- Kron & Aladar Fight (2:58)
- Epilogue (2:32)
The German release has as track 2 the song "Can Somebody Tell Me Who I Am" (4:14), performed by Orange Blue while the UK/Ireland release has as track 1 the song "High Hopes (8:32), performed by Pink Floyd; all the score tracks included above are on both German and UK/Ireland releases.
The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 65% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 122 reviews (79 "Fresh" and 43 "Rotten"); with an average score of 6.2/10. The consensus on the site was: "While Dinosaur's plot is generic and dull, its stunning computer animation and detailed backgrounds are enough to make it worth a look." Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four praising the film's "amazing visuals" but criticizing the decision to make the animals talk, which he felt cancelled out the effort to make the film so realistic. "An enormous effort had been spent on making these dinosaurs seem real, and then an even greater effort was spent on undermining the illusion" was his final consensus. The overall rating of Dinosaur on Metacritic from critics is 56%, with 15 critics giving positive reviews, 12 giving mixed reviews, and 5 giving negative reviews.
The lemurs depicted in the movie strongly resemble the sub-species Verreaux's sifaka. Biologists have raised concerns that the movie is misleading and could potentially confuse people, as it suggests lemurs (in their present evolved state) co-existed with dinosaurs over 66 million years ago. All modern strepsirrhines including lemurs are traditionally thought to have evolved from 'primitive' primates known as adapiforms during the Eocene (56 to 34Â mya) or Paleocene (66 to 56Â mya).
In an analysis of the film, done as part of EmpireOnline's Your Guide To Disney's 50 Animated Features, on the opening sequence it said "much of the scenery is skilfully-composited live-action, including shots of the tepui mountains that would captivate Up's Carl Fredricksen". However, it spoke negatively about the unrealistic talking dinosaurs after the opening, describing it as a "nose-dive". It said they "sound[ed] more like mallrats than terrible lizards" and that although no-one knows what dinosaurs sound like, they definitely don't sound like that. It also disliked how the meteor hit Earth in Act 1, making the majority of the film set "in gray gravel-pits rather than the lush landscapes we were sold". It said "the animals [are] cute enough, but the script, characters and dino-action are all plodding kiddie fare", but added these faults are made up through "James Newton Howard's majestic score". It cited similarities to the 1988 dinosaur-themed Don Bluth film The Land Before Time, and the more successful prehistoric Blue Sky Studios film Ice Age (which it described as "sassier"), and added that the "images of desperately migrating dinosaurs hark back to the far greater Fantasia". The film was also deemed "inferior" to the work of Pixar.
Dinosaur was a box-office success. It opened at #1 making $38,854,851 in its first weekend from 3,257 theaters, for an average of $11,929 per theater. It had a final gross of $137,748,063 in North America which covered its production costs. The film was eventually accepted overseas earning $212,074,702 for a worldwide take of $349,822,765. The official teaser trailer to this movie accompanied 102 Dalmatians and the trailer of The Emperor's New Groove.
Dinosaur was released on DVD & VHS on January 30, 2001. It was also released on 2-Disc Collector's Edition DVD that same day, with lots of special features. It was re-released on VHS in 2002. It released on high definition Blu-ray for an original widescreen presentation on September 19, 2006, becoming the first animated film to be released on the format. It was re-released on Blu-ray on February 8, 2011.
Disney Interactive released a tie-in video game on the Dreamcast, PlayStation, PC and Game Boy Color in 2000. To promote the release of Dinosaur, the Disney theme park ride "Countdown to Extinction" was renamed "DINOSAUR", and its plot, which had always prominently featured a Carnotaurus and an Iguanadon, was mildly altered so that the Iguanadon is specifically meant to be Aladar, the protagonist of the movie, and the plot of the ride is now about a human scientist travelling through time to a point just before the impact of the meteor which caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, to bring Aladar back to the present and save his life.
- The Land Before Time
- The Dino King
- Walking with Dinosaurs
- Official website
- Dinosaur at the Internet Movie Database