In October 1999, six years after Steven Spielberg restored Tyrannosaurus Rex to the top of the food chain in Jurassic Park, the BBC unveiled its ground-breaking series, Walking With Dinosaurs.
Narrated by Kenneth Branagh, the programme employed latest animatronics and computer-generated effects to step back in time to the Mesozoic Era – the so-called Age Of Reptiles.
Shot on location in Alaska, Walking With Dinosaurs –The 3D Movie is the next evolution, employing dazzling visuals to explore a familiar story of triumph against adversity in the Late Cretaceous period.
The film emphasises its educational aspects by repeatedly freeze-framing the action to provide us with the genus, English translation and feeding classification of each dinosaur.
Humour is pitched at younger audiences – the opening sequence is a feast of dino-poop – with occasional concessions to parents,
The film centres around Bulldust, the leader of a herd of herbivorous Pachyrhinosaurus. Bulldust must impose his authority on younger rivals while keeping an eye on his newly hatched brood including Scowler (voiced by Skyler Stone) and his weakling brother Patchi (Justin Long).
As the siblings grow up, Patchi learns to compensate for his small stature to overcome the obstacles that life throws at him and woo his sweetheart, Juniper (Tiya Sircar).
Wise-cracking best friend Alex (John Leguizamo) keeps a close eye on Patchi and together, they face the merciless Gorgosaurus, high-flying Pterosaurs and the chicken-like Hesperonychus, which Patchi refers to as ‘skinny-necked pecky things’.
Walking With Dinosaurs – The 3D Movie is visually arresting edutainment featuring Pterosaurs and moths fluttering inches from our face.
Vocal performances are solid, with Leguizamo stealing the best lines as the little bird who professes: ‘If you want to know where the food is, follow the fat guys.’
Scenes that might prove scary for the very young are preceded by a verbal warning from Alex, giving parents time to create a cuddle cage from the animated bloodshed.