This new feature is based on a 1999 BBC series that took a serious approach to visualizing the world of dinosaurs.
Such seriousness extended to the absence of, for instance, talking animals, which would have been an unconscionable sop toward attracting a kiddie audience.
In fact, the makers of the new film intended the same approach. Now, what do you suppose are the odds that Twentieth Century Fox would sink $60 million into an animated movie that didn’t have talking dinosaurs?
And so we have “Walking With Dinosaurs,” starring the voices of Justin Long as a lil’ baby dino named Patchi and John Leguizamo as Alex, the prehistoric bird narrating the story.
The script by John Collee (he wrote “Happy Feet”) includes gags about the tiny arms of the T-Rex and the copiousness of dinosaur poop — although, to be fair, both of those examples are historically accurate.
Our heroic young pachyrhinosaurus tags along with the annual migration from Alaska and back again, learning how to fend off predators and the weather as he grows into manhood.
The movie’s pretty underdone as drama, with Patchi’s rivalry with older bro Scowler (Skyler Stone) the main bone of contention.
In that sense, although the movie is a technical marvel, it’s hard to predict what the audience is going to be: Kids are bound to get restless, despite the opening period of baby-dino romping, and adults looking for an “Animal Planet” sort of spectacle will have to put up with talking dinosaurs. (It’s all voiceover, by the way — the creatures’ mouths don’t move. One of the strangest exercises in internal monologue ever.)
Despite all this, the movie looks incredible (and it’s meant for 3-D, which is the way you should see it if you’re still inclined).
The backgrounds are generally authentic locations (Alaska and New Zealand in the starring roles), with the digitally generated creatures then added to the landscapes.
So while I didn’t care much about the story that was unfolding, I was frequently astonished at the crisp visions that seamlessly made dinosaurs come to credible life in their natural habitats. Now if they would just stop talking…
“Walking With Dinosaurs” (2½ stars)
Incredibly good digital dinosaurs, seamlessly blended with real locations, make this quite a thing to look at. The story, with its talking dino (Justin Long) growing to manhood amidst the annual migrations, is a little less than compelling, and probably not lively enough for the average kid audience.
Rated: PG for violence.
Showing: Alderwood 7, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Olympic, Stanwood, Pacific Place, Woodinville, Cascade Mall, Oak Harbor.