I had a heck of a time getting my hands on this movie. First, Netflix sent the wrong movie for two weeks. Then I got super mad at them, and went to their competitor—Blockbuster. But Blockbuster also failed me. So I did what I had been avoiding—I called Netflix. Why had I been avoiding calling? I really, really don’t like calling companies. But I bit the bullet and called—and it was totally worth it. I have to say, Netflix’s customer service team has never disappointed me. Not only did the guy make me feel better and apologize profusely for my trouble, he diagnosed what was wrong with our queue and fixed it so it wouldn’t happen anymore. And that’s how Netflix won my heart back. Sorry, Blockbuster. You had your chance, but Netflix and I…we’re soul mates.
Ahem, moving on. I worked really hard to keep my expectations in check while waiting, waiting, waiting for Dinosaur. I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that it was one of the 50 on my list. I had thought it was a Disney Channel movie, because I had first seen it on Disney Channel. I was in elementary or middle school and was channel flipping when the opening credits started. I paused, just to see what it was. And it sucked me in.
Twelve years later, I’m still sucked in. I still cried. I felt just as heartbroken at the beginning tragedy that I did as a tween. I’d forgotten how many deaths there were, though. I spent the whole movie in suspense, worried about who would go next. And when dinosaurs did die—they showed it. Not as grotesquely as in Fantasia—we all know I didn’t like that dinosaur animation– but it still showed a lot of dead dinosaurs. Most surprisingly, they showed the villain’s death; well, they showed the villains’ deaths and the antagonist’s death. Disney usually employs ‘implied death’ mechanisms to show the demise of their villains. Think about it—we don’t see Bambi’s mother get shot, nor Gaston’s final resting place in the endless chasm, and Mother Gothel literally dissolves before she can hit the ground. Their deaths are implied, and we know our heroes are safe, yet we don’t visually see their death. When the dust clears, we see the villain-dinosaur’s twisted body. It’s way too creepy, I think. I love the movie—but I’ve seen enough animated dinosaur corpses to last a lifetime.
The overall lesson of the film was great. Aladar, the dinosaur raised by lemurs (it may sound ridiculous, but it works. That’s the power of Disney), befriends any he comes by and wants to help everyone. His upbeat attitude and desire for the group to work together clearly stem from his adopted family’s loving acceptance of him. Aladar makes everyone feel welcome and loved. His can-do attitude lands him on the wrong side of the selfish, survival-of-the-fittest leaders. Which means he befriends the small and the old—aka, the ones most likely to die. Talk about a nerve-wracking movie!
One thing I appreciated was that at one point, Aladar’s Pollyanna-esque attitude failed him. He wanted to give up, and he was just plain mad. That’s when the difference he made on his little mini-herd becomes clear. It was also reassuring—especially to someone who naturally has an upbeat attitude. At some point, even those with the best attitudes feel let down and want to give up. After getting the car stuck in the driveway (yes, again) on my way to pick James up from work (at 11:15 p.m.). Meaning he wasn’t with me. It was snowing like crazy and I couldn’t see the path down the driveway. Thankfully he got a ride home from work and we got it unstuck. But at one point before he arrived home, I may have shoved the snow shovel into the three foot high drift and stamped my foot like a child throwing a temper tantrum. In my defense, I’d been trying desperately to get unstuck for twenty minutes, it was still snowing like crazy (so much so that my previously-dry hair was soaking wet). Then I did it. I gave up. At least, until James got home. Then I put my now-filthy-and-soaked coat on, shoved my feet into my boots and we got that car unstuck. Not unlike Aladar, actually.
Technologically speaking, Dinosaur is amazing. It’s made up of CGI dinosaurs against real backdrops. Crews filmed in Florida, Venezuela, Australia, California and Hawaii. Even more amazing, to create a perfect paradise for dinosaurs, they combined multiple location backgrounds to create the ideal location. That innovativeness speaks to Walt’s spirit. And how could you not love a movie that Walt himself would have loved? The film is so visually striking because of the combination of CGI and real footage. It is in moments like these, when I think of the technological innovations Walt had to invent to achieve his dreams, that I wonder if he knew the impact his vision would have on our world. Could he have known that the Disney name would come to stand for all that is wholesome and dwells in childlike innocence? I hope he had at least an inkling.
No Disney chapter of mine would be complete without the Lion King references found in the film. They practically ran rampant in this one! First, there’s Yar’s comments when Aladar’s egg first hatches, “Babies grow up! You keep that thing, one day, we’ll turn our backs, it’ll be picking us out of its teeth! Things like THAT eat things like US as snacks!” Compared with Timon’s first realization that Simba is a lion cub:
Timon: Geez! It’s a lion! Run, Pumbaa! Move it!
Pumbaa: Hey, Timon, it’s just a *little* lion. Look at him. He’s so cute and all alone! Can we keep him?
Timon: Pumbaa, are you nuts? We’re talking about a lion; Lions eat guys like us!
Seems a little familiar, no? I thought so. I also thought it odd when Neera’s brother and Aladar are battling, the brother throws dust in Aladar’s eyes because Aladar is winning. Kind of like, oh, I don’t know, Scar throwing embers in Simba’s eyes when Simba had already won?! I’m not complaining—I love Lion King allusions. But if this keeps up, I may have already covered all Lion King related content before I get to that chapter! Ha! Just kidding. I could never run out of things to say about The Lion King.
All in all, I recommend going and renting Dinosaur and giving it a chance. Good luck finding it, though!