At this time of year to cash in on children’s films while kids are out of school, “Walking with Dinosaurs” actually tries to be informative. With narration presenting information about various types of dinosaurs, “Walking with Dinosaurs” blends science history with an underdog tale.
Ricky (Charlie Rowe) and Jade (Angourie Rice) are visiting their Uncle Zack (Karl Urban) as he searches for dinosaur bones, but Ricky is unimpressed. When he refuses to go exploring, he comes across a talking bird that gives him the history of a dinosaur tooth his uncle cherishes. This bird, Alex (voiced by John Leguizamo) works as a narrator to tell the brave story of runt Patchi (voiced by Justin Long) as he grows along his brother Scowler (Skyler Stone), looks up to their leader father, and experiences love for Juniper (Tiya Sircar). As Patchi grows, the herd faces challenges; they suffer tragedy when they migrate for the seasons and Scowler and Patchi become rivals. It’s up to brave Patchi to help save his herd when they are led into danger.
The biggest problem “Walking with Dinosaurs” faces is the lack of an obvious audience, a rather huge problem. It is marketed for its awesome 3D dinosaurs that are gorgeously created, but the lunging predators could be too scary for young children. However, the presentation of the film mimics the style of PBS shows (“Dinosaur Train” comes to mind) with playful narration from Alex used to cover the lesson. Older children will probably be bored.
Parental note: I attended the film with my six-year-old daughter, her three-year-old friend, and my mother. The adults were shocked by the scariness of the predatory attacks but the two girls were completely enthralled and were never frightened. However, they are unusual girls that love monsters and superheroes. As far as the story goes, imagine “Dinosaur Train” merged with “Bambi” and sprinkle in some of the awesomeness (and scariness) of “Jurassic Park.”
For parents bringing their children, the storyline becomes a little too melodramatic, a little too human. Rivalry between the brothers and a forbidden love storyline hinders the scientific lesson by confusing what is actual animal behavior and what is storytelling using artistic license to keep the audience happy. The informative sections with John Leguizamo’s comical narration about the names and their meanings are drowned out by a soap opera.
“Walking with Dinosaurs” works as a fun introduction to dinosaurs for young children that are not easily frightened, but I’d still recommend skipping the 3D since the lunging rows of teeth are asking for cries of fear.
Rating for “Walking with Dinosaurs:” C+
For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.
“Walking with Dinosaurs” is playing at many theatres in Columbus, including Movie Tavern and AMC Grove City. For showtimes, click here.