Opening 19 Dec 2013
Ricky is in the Alaskan wilds with his Uncle Zack, who researches dinosaur bones, when he’s lucky enough to find them. Ricky finds the experience totally boring, saying, “I’m not digging out ugly dead things.” Suddenly a little bird appears at his side and says, “Your own forefathers weren’t exactly raving beauties.” Thus begins a friendship as the bird (named Alex because he is a prehistoric alexornis) takes Ricky back into time to experience dinosaurs first hand. We meet Patchi, a new-born pachyrhinosaurus. He’s smaller than his siblings and must fight for food and acknowledgement, contrary to his strong, self-confident brother Bruto. The herd migrates each year and tries to avoid enemy species such as tyrannosaurus Rex, gorgosaurus or troodon. Patchi falls in love with Jade, but must relinquish her to the leader of the pack, namely his own brother Bruto. Naturally, Patchi grows in stature and accomplishments and is able to prove his worth.
The simple story holds a child’s attention. The real art of the film is the animated dinosaurs “filmed” on location in Alaska and New Zealand. Directors Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale definitely achieved their goal of creating authentic figures and for once, I’m not complaining about 3D; it’s quite satisfactory to have a dinosaur within stroking distance, just as they must have looked 70 million years ago. We learn some truths from the film, i.e., that dinos ran in herds, migrated each year, had real family lives, and were fluffier than we originally might have assumed as well as being brightly colored.
The film is based on a TV series with the same title, which first appeared in 1999. It could be a learning aid to show in classrooms; after all, this small window of time was the only era which produced dinos in the 4.5 billion years of the Earth’s existence. Never before or since has there existed this type of animal. (Becky Tan)