Thursday, January 16, 2014

Add-On Post: Review Disney's Dinosaur

Last week we reviewed the new movie out in theaters, Walking with Dinosaurs 3D.  During the review I addressed how Gary and I thought many folks unfairly compared it to other such children's dinosaur movies like The Land Before Time and You are Umasau.  After the review went live, I received a request on facebook to also include a comparison and review of yet another well-known talking dinosaur film, Disney's Dinosaur, which came out in 2000.

I remember my aunt taking me to see Dinosaur in the movie theater as a reward for getting good grades on my report card (I was twelve at the time).  I enjoyed it at the time and I recently went back and re-watched it.  I actually still enjoyed it.  The soundtrack is also AMAZING.  If you like epic classical scores from movies, seriously check out Dinosaur on itunes.



The main character of the movie is an Iguanodon named Aladar.  As an egg, Aladar was separated from the nest, got washed down a river (Moses dinosaur!) and somehow ended up on an island where the biggest creatures were lemurs (Sifakas to be exact I believe).  No, lemurs didn't exist back then but hey, lemurs were trendy during the early 2000s.  Just like penguins were a thing later on.  Now everyone seems to be obsessed with sloths and foxes (thanks internet!).  So this family of lemurs adopts the baby Iguanodon and raises him as one of their own.  Years later a meteor shower blows up the island except for Aladar and his immediate lemur family who rode on his back as he swam away.  Then they meet a whole crap-ton of other dinosaurs in the process of migrating, including other Iguanodons.  There is a cute girl Iguanodon (duh) and a douchy alpha male Iguanodon (of course).  Aladar makes friends with a rag-tag team of misfit dinosaurs, including an old Brachiosaurus, old Styracosaurus, and an Ankylosaur who acts like a dog.  Long story short, they almost get killed by natural disasters and some inaccurately over-sized Carnotaurus, the douchy Iguanodon gets killed because he is a douche, and Aladar gets the cute girl and makes babies with her.

I intend to review this in the same way I did the others from last week.  Some commented on how the letter grading system I whipped up was weird but I feel it works well by laying everything out clearly.

Visual Accuracy- This is tricky.  The dinosaurs themselves in general are really good.  The main characters are stylized a tad.  Unlike Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, in which the dinosaurs don't really show expression because they talk...telapathically, the characters in Dinosaur actually move their mouths and show emotion.  The Iguanodons, for example, which had beaks in real life, were given expressive lips over the beaks (which then look like teeth) to emote more clearly.  The Iguanodons also run on all fours in an almost mammal-like fashion which would probably break the animal's spine in real life.

Okay, Aladar.  Give me...scared!

The Carnotaurus villains are bigger than they were in life so they could be scarier for the sake of the movie.  I am glad they included them, however, instead of just another Tyrannosaurus.  In fact, I'd say it was thanks to Dinosaur that Carnotaurus was put on the map as a more mainstream dinosaur.  (They WERE really scary in the movie!)  Also, the Velociraptors are actually really spot on except for the fact that they don't have feathers (which was officially confirmed thanks to a fossil discovery made after the movie came out.)  Other than the no feathers their heads are just like the actual skulls and they are the correct size!  I even like their behavior in the movie as small prey hunters/aggressive scavengers instead of the all-too-popular tactical genius pack hunters portrayal.  Like in Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, I like how the predators, although portrayed as villains, are not unrealistically violent.  They kill to eat, not to kill.  They also back off when in risk of being hurt, themselves, like actual predators do. 

Dramatic Carnotaurus is dramatic.

The setting is all wrong time-wise.  The dinosaurs showcased are from varying time periods and continents PLUS modern lemurs which didn't exist at all during the Mesozoic.  I read somewhere (I can't remember now where exactly) that the creators didn't want to use actual Mesozoic mammals because they were "too ugly".  Really, Disney?  You can make ANYTHING cute.  Come on.

Like i said, this is tough because certain aspects of the movie have great accuracy, but others are just horribly wrong.  I'd say the most accurate parts are the background characters with no lines!  C+

Education- Education is sort of lacking here other than the fact that the dinosaurs look good.  Like I said above, the Velociraptors are portrayed well and Carnotaurus was made very popular.  Unfortunately, actual names of animals are never mentioned except for the Carnotaurus, which is referred to as a "Carnotaur" one time in the film.  There are actually plenty of other interesting animals featured not previously seen in pop culture like Pachyrhinosaurus, Pteranodon steinbergi, Koolasuchus, Oviraptor, Stygimoloch, Struthiomimus, and Icarosaurus, but the average person wouldn't be able to identify them just by watching the film.  D

That is a lemur holding a baby Iguanodon as if it were a human infant.  It's Disney, baby!

Take Home Message- This movie's plot and message are VERY similar to Walking with Dinosaurs 3D.  Outcast main character gets by not with brute strength, but by using his smarts and being a genuinely nice individual.  Never leave anyone behind.  Work together as a team to overcome big obstacles.  They also throw in the nice "loving families can come in all shapes and sizes" too.  B+

This is another movie that a lot of folks love to bash because it wasn't accurate and not 100% on par with every fanboy and girl's personal vision.  I still enjoyed it even though I wouldn't consider it an educational experience.  Visually it is beautiful, and did I mention the soundtrack is awesome?  It's amongst the best epic soundtracks in my honest opinion.  Seriously, go download it. 



So those are my thoughts on Dinosaur.  Hope you enjoyed it!  What did you think of the movie?  How does it compare to Walking with Dinosaurs 3D or any other children's dinosaur movie?  We would love to know your thoughts! 

10 comments:

  1. Personally, I liked this movie, but the one thing that I just cant get over were those lemurs.

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  2. "Last week we reviewed the new movie out in theaters, Walking with Dinosaurs 3D."

    I'm gonna comment on that blog post too, but I thought I should comment on this blog post 1st.

    "I even like their behavior in the movie as small prey hunters/aggressive scavengers instead of the all-too-popular tactical genius pack hunters portrayal."

    1stly, that reminds me: Would you mind if I commented on 1 of you older (but related) blog posts here? I would've commented there if I could, but I can't. Many thanks in advance.

    2ndly, you might wanna re-watch the Velociraptor scenes ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq6386V90SQ ). AFAICT, they were portrayed as pack hunters (I.e They seemed to communicate & attack as a coordinated group) & they were aiming for Aladar (I.e. They only attacked the lemurs after jumping onto Aladar & biting him). However, I do agree w/your main point that they're portrayed more realistically (E.g. As indicated by the Struthiomimus scene, they seemed to prefer smaller prey/scavenging; I'm guessing they only attacked Aladar b/c he was scared/stupid/tired).*

    "I read somewhere (I can't remember now where exactly) that the creators didn't want to use actual Mesazoic mammals because they were "too ugly"."

    I remember reading that too, but it didn't make sense to me. I mean, had the creators not heard of Opossums (See 4:45-5:25: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gehnJKjqzso )? While Opossums per se didn't coexist w/non-avian dinos, their relatives did.

    "This is another movie that a lot of folks love to bash because it wasn't accurate and not 100% on par with every fanboy and girl's personal vision."

    W/all due respect, the above quote seems overly harsh. AFAIK, there were very good reasons to criticize this movie ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinosaur_(film)#Critical_response ). IMO, it was OK for what it was, but 1) it wasn't what Disney originally implied ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCqYuBIFE5I ), & 2) "The Land Before Time" did the same thing better. I'll explain what I mean when I comment on your previous blog post.

    BTW, there's 1 other talking dino movie you might wanna add if you dare: "The Dino King" (AKA "Tarbosaurus 3D": http://viooz.co/movies/12567-tarbosaurus-3d-2012.html ).

    -Hadiaz

    *By "smaller", I mean, "smaller than Aladar". What's interesting about that is that there might be evidence of a dromaeosaurid pack attacking an ornithomimid (See Figure 1.5, page 8: http://assets.cambridge.org/97805218/89964/excerpt/9780521889964_excerpt.pdf ).

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the reply!

      I watched the raptor scene recently. When they attacked Aladar he wasn't a healthy animal. He just finished swimming in the ocean after surviving a meteorite attack! He was tired, stumbling around, he was disoriented, and they they probably thought he was getting ready to die. (That is how I saw it at least.) When he started running (like a healthy animal) and the sand whipped up they gave up fast. Sure, they were in a pack, but not Jurassic Park tactical genius pack is my point. Get what I mean?

      I don't think I was overly harsh with the fanboy remark. I have read other reviews and even what people have said on message boards that bash this movie. THOSE comments I'd say are harsh!

      I have seen most of "The Dino King". I'll be honest with you...I couldn't sit through it! I don't know why but it just seemed so overly dramatic, the CGI seemed off, the dialogue was REALLY bad... I can defend WWD3D and Dinosaur but that...I don't know I just couldn't!

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    2. "Thanks for the reply!"

      Anytime. I'm just sorry I haven't kept up w/this blog as well as I should've. As a life-long dino-fan who majored in "Natural History and Interpretation", it's 1 of the more unique & interesting dino blogs b/c it's from the perspective of a non-paleontologist educator (I only know of 1 other such blog: http://dinosours.wordpress.com ).

      "Sure, they were in a pack, but not Jurassic Park tactical genius pack is my point."

      That's what I was saying too ("I'm guessing they only attacked Aladar b/c he was scared/stupid/tired"). I was just nit-picking how you originally said that. Sorry if that wasn't clear in my previous comment.

      "I have read other reviews and even what people have said on message boards that bash this movie."

      I get what you mean now. I was originally thinking of just the real reviews (as opposed to the comments on message boards).

      "I couldn't sit through it!"

      I did b/c, to quote the Nostalgia Critic, "I'm a glutton for f***ing punishment" (I added the censor).

      -Hadiaz

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    3. Gary and I don't consider ourselves paleontologists but we DO work a lot in the field of paleontology and with paleontologists. We go on digs and conduct research. Gary's background is in geology and mine is in zoology (and am still very much active in the field on a daily basis). Also the paleo-art gets me a lot of ins with the field as well. I would say some of our other writers like Nathan and Betsy are paleontologists. I would say we are all pretty credible with anything that we decide to write about on here!

      Just to clarify ;)

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    4. "Gary's background is in geology and mine is in zoology"

      Does that mean you & Gary are 2 halves of a whole paleontologist? ;) The above quote reminded me of how "a paleontologist is classically a mixture of geologist and biologist" ( http://dml.cmnh.org/2006May/msg00022.html ).

      "Just to clarify ;)"

      No worries. As you can see below, I tend to clarify too.

      BTW, remember when I said "that reminds me" in my 1st comment? I was referring to "A New Look at Killer Claws" (which I didn't find out about until it was too late to comment there). Specifically, I wanted to comment on the following quotes.

      "That one is from a South American bird called a Seriema that is more adapted to walking around on the ground than to flying unlike the eagle. What they both have in common, however, is that over-sized claw on the toe just like an extinct dromaeosaur has!"

      I wouldn't refer to a Seriema's D-II claw as "over-sized", given that it's "only slightly larger (4%) than the D-III claw (an observation confirmed from other specimens and photos). While this is within a typical range for falconids, and higher than expected for passerines, it is hardly similar to the hypertrophied condition seen in Accipitridae (n=17, mean=36.5% larger, s.d.=16.8%; Fowler et al., 2009) and Dromaeosauridae (n=7, mean=57.8% larger, s.d.=24.6%)" (See Fowler et al.'s "Supporting Information").

      "As you may know, these modern birds don't really hunt in packs for the most part nor do they hunt prey too much larger than themselves (there are a few exceptions)."

      Actually, pack hunting "may be important for many raptorial birds" ( http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1312102?uid=3739696&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21103288015261 ).* I'm not saying that diurnal raptors don't often hunt alone (They do), but that pack hunting is more common in diurnal raptors than you implied. I should also clarify that 1) pair hunting counts as pack hunting ("a pack can be as small as a pair": http://www.painteddog.org/the-dogs/pack-life/ ), & 2) you don't have to hunt in a pack all the time to be a pack hunter ("they hunt singly during summer": http://www.forestrynepal.org/notes/wildlife-biology/high-altitude-wildlife/mammals/wolf ).

      "So what if extinct dromaeosaurs specialized in hunting smaller prey as opposed to pack hunting large prey?"

      The above quote is weird b/c Fowler et al. 2012 isn't about whether eudromaeosaurs hunted larger prey (As pointed out in said paper, the evidence shows they probably did), but how they hunted smaller prey.** In fact, it's stated that 1) "Prey-riding can be considered as an extension of the typical accipitrid predatory strategy for dealing with large prey", & 2) "Prey-riding in eagles is a similar behaviour to the “climbing crampon” hypothesis of Manning et al." (which is "a function that would seemingly support group hunting. In such a scenario, some members of the group pulled the victim to the ground, one or more then delivering the killing bite/slash to the throat or belly once exposed (a similar method of predation is hypothesized for sabercats, see McHenry, et al. 2007)": http://scienceblogs.com/laelaps/2007/10/30/at-long-last-dromeosaur-tracks/ ). I'm guessing that prey-riding alone only works for volant animals, hence why eudromaeosaurs & "sabercats" probably did prey-riding in packs.

      -Hadiaz

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    5. *If you can't get access to the quoted paper, this article is a good summary: http://www.nytimes.com/1993/01/19/science/rabbits-beware-some-birds-of-prey-hunt-in-packs.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

      **In references to the parentheses, Fowler et al. 2012 cited Maxwell & Ostrom 1995 ( http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/4523664?uid=3739696&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21103290357681 ). If you can't get access to the latter, this article is a good summary: http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/htmlsite/master.html?http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/htmlsite/1299/1299_feature.html

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    6. "Does that mean you & Gary are 2 halves of a whole paleontologist?"

      No. It means that I am one whole zoologist who sometimes brings that expertise into paleontology. BUT ALSO it meanst that sometimes Gary and I fuze like in Dragon Ball Z to become one paleontologist. :D

      "I wouldn't refer to a Seriema's D-II claw as "over-sized", given that it's "only slightly larger"

      It is large enough to notice and supports my points. I don't disagree with anything you are saying but the adaptation is noticeable.

      "I'm not saying that diurnal raptors don't often hunt alone (They do), but that pack hunting is more common in diurnal raptors than you implied. I should also clarify that 1) pair hunting counts as pack hunting ("a pack can be as small as a pair""

      I said there were exceptions didn't I? Harris Hawks come to mind off the top of my head. I have also seen Golden Eagles work in pairs. More often than not, however, falconiformes and lets say strigiformes too, hunt solitary.

      "The above quote is weird"

      I don't think it's weird. All I am saying in a nutshell is they ate what they could when they could and that small prey may have been on the menu more than what a lot of folks tend to think and that the claws had something to do with it.

      Thanks for the nice reply!

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    7. "BUT ALSO it meanst that sometimes Gary and I fuze like in Dragon Ball Z to become one paleontologist. :D"

      Nice! :)

      "It is large enough to notice and supports my points. I don't disagree with anything you are saying but the adaptation is noticeable."

      Fair enough.

      "I said there were exceptions didn't I?"

      I actually took that as saying that pack hunting in diurnal raptors is exceptional (I.e. Rare). My bad.

      In retrospect, I should've said that this was b/c some ppl said something similar while implying Fowler et al. 2012 negates eudromaeosaurs pack hunting larger prey. When you said "as opposed to", I assumed you were implying the same thing. Again, my bad.

      "Thanks for the nice reply!"

      Anytime. Many thanks for responding to my comments AWA being so patient & understanding. Sometimes, I worry that my nit-picks might annoy ppl who don't know me (or about my obsessive-complusive issues).

      -Hadiaz

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  3. Dear Raptor_044,

    Thanks for the comments. As far as paleontologists being on this blog, the answer is yes. Contributors on this blog are working paleontologists. In regards to Chris, he can make his own case, but he is more of a qualified writer for a fun blog on paleontology than most blogs out there not written by professionals. By that I mean there are certain paleo bloggers with no educational merit or formal training who are perceived by the public as "experts" or "paleontologists." Chris and me are very humble and sometimes beyond humble on our takes in this world of paleo we love. There are a lot of people with less credentials than Chris and I that call themselves paleontologists on a daily basis and with no recourse. All in all, Chris and I are beyond the undergrad level working towards grad studies and very active with field classes associated with colleges/universities, we present and do research, & are not "fan boys." Just to put things in more perspective, I would never call myself a paleontologist anyway. Meaning, I have no desire to and the next leg of my education has me working in vert paleo at the grad level. My background is in the geosciences and paleontology is just part of what I do. I'm not looking to make a career in paleo, but rather I am always learning and studying it to better prepare myself for what may come. I am very humble when it comes to science and no matter if I'm graduated or being called a paleontologist, I would be the first to let whomever know that I don't consider myself anything other than a hard working student :-) I would prefer to be a called a student or "paleontologist in training." Trust when I tell you that Chris are very humble, hard working, and fun students.

    P.S. Writing this in between classes on the fly, so pardon the grammar.

    Thanks for your input and best wishes!

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