Release Date: May 19th, 2000
Budget: $127.5 million
Domestic Gross: $137.7 million
Worldwide Gross: $348.8 million
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 64%
IMDB Score: 6.5/10
Storyline (per IMDB): During an attack on a pack of Iguanodon, an egg is separated and ends up with the possession of a group of lemurs. The lemurs care for this egg and the young creature born from it, which they call Aladar (D.B. Sweeney). When meteorites hit Earth, Aladar and his family must leave their homeland. Away from home and as close to danger as they have ever been, they meet up with a huge group of dinosaurs, led by Kron (Samuel E. Wright) and Bruton (Peter Siragusa). All together they are trying to reach the nesting grounds, but it’s not going to be easy.
Pre-Watching Thoughts: We now officially kick off the new millennium for Disney with the first official film of 2000, and this is a film that I feel always slips through the cracks and doesn’t get talked about enough. Granted, this film is not considered in the same vein as some of the other films that many consider to be very underrated, and it is one of the those films that you don’t think about and I wouldn’t be surprised if some people completely forgot that this film even existed. This stretch is going to be the most interesting stretch for me since starting this project and hopefully this film gets things off to a good start.
Voice Cast: We have gone back and forth on the films either having a large cast or some having a small cast, and for this film we have the latter as we have one of our smaller casts in the history of the Disney films. In addition, it is pretty much a whole new cast though we do have one returning actor as Samuel Wright returns to voice Kron in what would be one of his final film roles of his career. This brings us to the newcomers in this film as we start off with D.B. Sweeney who voices Aladar as he was in the prime of his career at this point, and then we have Alfre Woodard who voices Pilo as she was also in the prime of her career at this point. Next, we have Ossie Davis who voices Yar as he was starting to wind down his career as the decade started, and then we have Max Casella who voices Zini as his career was starting to take off and I’ll mention as well Evan Sabara who voices Zini as a child. We then have Hayden Panettiere who voices Suri as she was a few years into her burgeoning career, and then we have Julianna Marguiles who voices Neera though she was more remembered at this time for being on the show ER. Next, we have Joan Plowright who voices Baylene as she was about to start winding her career down and then we have Peter Siragusa who voices Burton as he was in the prime of his career, and finally we have Della Reese who voices Eema in one of her few major roles in film. It was an interesting dynamic of veteran actors mixed in with relative newcomers and we will see if they continue this trend going forward or if they lean more towards experience as opposed to youth.
Hero/Prince: We now kick off a new decade and the first hero to talk about is the Iguanodon named Aladar, and we meet him while he is still in an egg cared for by his family until they are chased off by the Carnotaurus. Amazingly, the egg survives numerous trials before being found by a family of lemurs where Pilo cares for him despite her father’s reservations, and Aladar is raised and accepted by the lemurs until they are forced off their island following a meteor shower. Aladar and the lemurs encounter a herd of Iguanodons led by Kron who are searching for the Nesting Grounds, and Aladar falls in love with Kron’s sister Neera while making friends with other outcasts who were part of the group. They are tracked by a pair of Carnotaurus and Aladar and his friends are left behind though they manage to kill one of the Carnotaurus, and they become lost in a cave before managing to escape while also coming upon the Nesting Grounds. He tries to convince Kron to follow them and he refuses though Neera and the others believe him, and the surviving Carnotaurus corners them though they band together and keep him at bay though he eventually goes after Kron. The Carnotaurus attacks Kron before being killed by Aladar though Kron dies from his injuries, and Aladar leads the herd to the Nesting Grounds where they flourish as Aladar and Neera become a couple and have their own babies. Aladar is a classic example of someone that loses their family and is accepted into a different family, and he looks to find his place in life especially when he finally comes across others that look just like him. He is looked down on by Kron as an outcast though he finally comes into his own when the herd turn to him after revealing he found the Nesting Grounds, and despite his differences with Kron he fights the Carnotaurus and ultimately kills him even though he couldn’t save Kron in time. While Aladar is not as deep a character as several of the other heroes or princes in the canon, he is a perfectly fine hero though he more than likely will rank at the bottom of the list.
Villain: To this point, all of the villains we have talked about have been real defined characters and while some are more defined than others, they have all had certain characteristics that make them stand out especially when compared to other villains. However, that ends here as we have probably the most generic villain to this date and that is the Carnotaurus that first appear in the beginning of the film where they attack a herd of dinosaurs which causes Aladar who is still in an egg to be separated from his family. We don’t see them again until they corner Aladar and his friends in a cave on their journey to the Nesting Grounds, and one of them is killed when Burton sacrifices himself and causes a cave-in. The surviving Carnotaurus eventually tracks Aladar and finds the herd at the entrance of the Nesting Grounds, but Aladar rallies the herd and they stand their ground against the Carnotaurus. The Carnotaurus eventually turns its attention to Kron and attacks him as he mortally wounds him, but Aladar and Neera fight him with Aladar forcing the Carnotaurus off a cliff and he falls to his death. I think it goes without saying that while the Carnotaurus is a very scary dinosaur and it was interesting they went with this type and not the T-Rex which is usually the standard dinosaur, the Carnotaurus is arguably the weakest villain to this point and right now is probably the worst of all time.
Other Characters: While on paper it seems like there are a lot of characters to talk about especially since we have some times where there are big groups of dinosaurs, there are really only a handful of characters that were vital to the film. First, we have the family of lemurs that raise Aladar including the patriarch Yar, his children Zini and Pilo who raises Aladar as her son, and Pilo’s daughter Suri who stay with Aladar after their home is destroyed by the meteor shower and they join him on the journey to the Nesting Grounds where they stay. We then have the herd of dinosaurs that Aladar and the lemurs join which is led by Kron who is merciless and selfish, and he looks down on Aladar, the lemurs, and the other outcasts that join them as all he cares about is reaching the Nesting Grounds and he even leaves Aladar and the others behind. After Aladar and the others find the Nesting Grounds and realize the others can’t make it through the entrance, Kron attempts to climb up the rocks and even fights with Aladar until Neera stops him and the dinosaurs side with Aladar. Kron continues on by himself until the Carnotaurus attacks him and wounds him, but Aladar and Neera arrive and kill the Carnotaurus though Kron eventually dies from his wounds. Next, we have Neera who is Kron’s sister and she takes a liking to Aladar from the start, and she stays by her brother’s side until Kron fights Aladar at which point she sides with Aladar though she assists Aladar in fighting the Carnotaurus and trying to save Kron though they are too late. She arrives at the Nesting Grounds with Aladar and becomes his mate as they eventually have children of their own. We then have Bruton who is Kron’s second-in-command and is initially cold to Aladar and the other outcasts, but he warms to them when Pilo is kind to him and he even sacrifices himself to take out one of the Carnotaurus so the others could escape. Finally, we have Baylene and Eema who are two of the outcasts tagging along with the herd and they become friends with Aladar and the lemurs, and they manager to get through the cave and find the Nesting Ground where they continue to be friends with Aladar. While there are not that many characters, the main ones are pretty important to the film and help keep things moving along.
Plot: It is funny because the last time we saw dinosaurs in a Disney film, it was as part of one of the shorts of the original “Fantasia” and you wondered how they could create a full-length film about dinosaurs without just making it a documentary. Obviously, this is Disney we are talking about and they are usually able to make something out of anything, and we do get that here as the film’s main character is left behind while still an egg after his family is attacked by a Carnotaurus. The egg survives numerous trials before being found by a family of lemurs and he is raised by the lemurs who name him Aladar, and then a meteor shower destroys the lemurs’ island and Aladar and the survivors have to move on. They come across a herd of dinosaurs led by Kron who are heading to the Nesting Grounds, and they befriend some of the outcast dinosaurs and Aladar begins to fall in love with Kron’s sister Neera. After the group learn they are being stalked by a pair of Carnotaurus, Kron leads the herd away with Aladar and the outcasts being left behind and Bruton sacrifices himself to save his friends and kill one of the Carnotaurus. Aladar and the outcasts manage to escape the cave and also come upon the Nesting Grounds where they see the main entrance is blocked off, and Aladar tries to warn the others though Kron refuses to believe him and they fight until Neera stands up for Aladar. The other Carnotaurus attacks them though they stand their ground and scare him off though he goes after Kron, and he wounds Kron only for Aladar to fight and eventually kill him though Kron dies from his injuries. Aladar leads the herd to the Nesting Grounds and they begin their new lives there with Aladar and Neera having children of their own. It is interesting because the storyline itself is one of the most common used in film and other media, but I believe that this is the first time to my knowledge that they had dinosaurs be the characters which does feel a bit weird though it does work to a certain extent.
Random Watching Thoughts: So the original idea was to have this film be a live-action film with puppets, but eventually was changed to being animated though they would still use live-action backdrops; “Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest changes of all”; Dinosaur eggs look a lot like giant-sized pellets; She had to have the eggs in a neat little pattern and didn’t want that other dinosaur to mess with it; It is good that they went with a different carnivore dinosaur like the Carnotaurus instead of the usual T-Rex trope; That dinosaur is curious as to what he has found and upon realizing it is the Carnotaurus, he quickly bails for his life; Talk about luck with the one egg not getting crushed; That one dinosaur grabs the surviving egg and sneaks off like a thief of the night; They fight over the egg only to lose it and then they continue their fight knowing they’ve lost their dinner; It is a bit weird knowing that this film is considered an animated film when almost all of the background is live-action and the only things animated are the dinosaurs; Maybe it’s just me, but watching this film I feel like those working on it were either inspired by or were fans of “The Land Before Time” because I’m seeing a lot of parallels to that film; Those babies were so excited only for their mother to lose the egg because some other birds wanted it for themselves; An interesting shot there as when the lightning strikes, we see a silhouette of Aladar inside the egg; Zini always has to be the first to know about something; Pretty sneaky move by Plio to have Yar get rid of Aladar though he ultimately can’t do it and lets Plio raise him; Plio says that they’ll teach Aladar to hate meat, but in reality Iguanodons were herbivores; That was pretty slick how they made it seem like Aladar had started becoming a predator to the lemurs, but then we learn that they were just playing; Lemurs have pickup lines?; He put the “prime” in primate, ahh puns what would we be without you?; I love how Aladar was acting like the liaison for the male lemurs; I don’t know if anyone had expected to learn about the mating rituals of lemurs when they saw this film; Poor Zini gets left out again; There’s nothing more amazing to watch than a meteor show until you realize one of the meteors is going to strike the Earth; Anytime a flock of birds fly away, you know there’s going to be trouble; We don’t know if the smaller meteors hit the Earth, but you know damn well that large one was going to; The meteor was the original atomic bomb; It’s weird seeing a meteor hit the Earth during the time of the dinosaurs and not be the one that caused the ultimate extinction of the species; Imagine living in one location for most of your life and then having to move, of course it would be intimidating; We have “Jurassic Park” to thank for really making the raptors a villain in dinosaur films; That’s quite the motley crew of dinosaurs marching and they have no qualms of knocking Aladar over so they can keep moving; They weren’t sure if they wanted to follow the herd until the raptors came back and basically made the decision for them; Eema just tells Baylene to use her big feet and kick anyone away, but Baylene is too much of a lady to do so; So the Ankylosaurus is Eema’s dog; They think that the lemurs are just blemishes on Aladar’s skin; I mentioned the parallels to “The Land Before Time” as the Nesting Grounds are clearly a nod to the Great Valley; Kron is a bit of an asshole by referring to the stragglers as weak; Yar is so confident in himself that he can handle Kron despite the obvious size difference; Those raptors have nothing better to do than follow the herd; Zini is assuming a lot if he thinks that Neera is Aladar’s girlfriend after just one meeting; Zini says that he’s a love monkey yet he was the only one not to find a mate last time; Ouch, a “jerkasaurus”; Kron showing no mercy by saying anyone caught by a predator is on their own; Eema just nonchalantly says if you smell something sizzling, it’s probably her; I’ve been trying to figure out where on Earth they are and I think it is Africa because they are now traversing the desert which seems like the Sahara; The raptors are thrilled to finally have some food after following the herd for so long; Did they really have to show the skeleton of the dinosaur that the raptors ate?; Forget the raptors, new challengers in the Carnotaurus have arrived; They were so excited to finally reach the lake only to discover that it had dried up; Kron is obviously a firm believer in that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few; It’s like the larger that water came out of the ground, the bigger the crowd got around it; That sucks for Bruton and the scout that they left just before they found the water; Suri calling the little dinosaurs “little Aladars” simply because they are the same as Aladar; Neera was a firm believer in Kron’s tactics until she met Aladar; So they refer to the meteor as a “fireball”; Talk about leaving a trail behind; Even injured and near death, Bruton puts up a tough exterior and doesn’t want any help; I would say that Url is sturdy given his back is full of spikes; Eema asks who booked this trip like they had a travel agent; Despite everything, Plio was more than happy to help Bruton heal up; Aladar would’ve been fine had the lightning not given him away to the Carnotaurus; Of course of the Carnotaurus had to survive; Neera starting to move away from Kron and more towards Aladar as she helps the children continue on; It should be noted that dinosaurs have a great sense of smell; You always have to have that brief moment where the hero loses all hope only to be rallied by his friends; It does seem fairly convenient that they break their way out of the cave and happen to arrive at the Nesting Grounds; Eema was confident that the herd would arrive shortly until they realized that the entranceway is blocked off; Eema is a bit too optimistic in believing that Kron will listen to Aladar; Kron lost his authority really quickly; I wonder if that’s ever happened in real life where a whole herd of dinosaurs stand their ground and hold off a predator; The Carnotaurus realizes he can’t beat the herd so he decides to go after Kron since he’s by himself; I believe this is the first time where we had a slow motion death of a villain; It is sad where we don’t even get a moment where Kron lives long enough to make peace with Aladar and Neera before dying; The baby takes a whiz while Yar holds him similar to what Aladar did when he was a baby; Even Zini finally got himself some loving; We close out with the next generation of dinosaurs being born; Pilo was right about one thing, the dinosaurs’ time will certainly be remembered.
Overall Thoughts: Overall, this film was fairly average at best and was at worst one of the most forgettable films to this point. While there have been other films prior to this that might have been worse, at least there are parts of them that are memorable while this one is just there. It’s pretty unfortunate because we have been on such a good run with these films and the last few have been much better than I thought they would, but this was the first one that didn’t hold up well. Given that I haven’t watched any of these films prior to this, I am always very optimistic going in and after this one, I am hoping that the remaining films aren’t as disappointing as this one. As for this film, it is a perfectly decent film that wasn’t the worst to this point, but it is a major step downward and the 2000s are not off to a great start for Disney.
Final Grade: 5/10