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Dinosaur is a unique Disney animated film from the year 2000. It is a hybrid of live-action photography for its settings, and CGI animation for its characters, special effects, and whatnot.
The hero is Aladar, an Iguanodon. His egg was separated from his family through a very convoluted turn of events, and made its way to an island. There, he was found by a family of lemurs, who adopt him when he is born (although the patriarch lemur opposes initially). Time passes offscreen and afterwards we see the adult Aladar living care-free with the primates in the island.
Sadly, meteors destroy the island and Aladar and his adoptive family must make their way to the mainland. Once there, the main plot kicks in and they join a herd of similarly displaced animals who are migrating through the vast, tractless desert with treacherous terrain and scary-looking predators who don't talk. They are seeking literally greener pastures, a valley known as the Nesting Grounds, which is apparently the only fertile land for miles around. The herd is led by Kron, an old, hard-assed Iguanodon — the first member of his own species Aladar has ever met — who insists that everyone follow his orders even if it kills them all. He refuses to make concessions for the oldest and youngest members of the herd, an issue that he and Aladar especially lock
horns thumbspikes over. Eventually, Aladar and the two old herd members he has befriended find their way to the Nesting Grounds through The Power of Friendship, and they return just in time to rescue the rest of Kron's herd from menacing predators and show them the way.
It is usually considered one of the weakest films in the canon, but still managed to be better than some later films that will go unmentioned. The main point of criticism is how similar it was to Don Bluth's The Land Before Time. Disney had been accused of copying other works before, but unlike the well-loved The Lion King, the work was unable to stand on its own merits and thus fell into obscurity. In addition, while the portrayal of Velociraptors as wiry, small pack hunters instead of misnamed Deinonychus is surprisingly accurate, much of the rest of the films' depiction of late Cretaceous-era life is woefully inaccurate, particularly in the portrayal of Carnotaurus as a Tyrannosaurus Rex knock-off, and the eerily human lips of the Iguanodons. That said, the film is gorgeous to look at, and did well financially, but ultimately fell far short of Disney's work in the Renaissance. To add insult to injury, it outperformed a vastly superior and more popular Disney film released in the same year.
Has examples of:
- Alternate Animal Affection: Aladar and Neera crossing their neck.
- Anachronism Stew: Just one example: a making-of article went on and on about how hard it was for the animators to render grass and the lemur's fur — in a movie set during the late Cretaceous.
- Although it was later discovered that dinosaurs really ate grass.
- Babies Ever After: The end of the film ends with the births of Aladar and Neera's offspring, as well as every other parent dinosaur who made it to the Nesting Grounds.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Overlaps with Obviously Evil. Kron and Bruton have huge nasal horns, cruddy thumb-spikes, and basically look like they have been through a lot, but Aladar and Neera completely lack these features. It may be partially justified since the former are much older than the latter, as well as the idea that they've obviously been in many more fights.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Kron is stubbornly (though unwittingly) leading the herd to their deaths, while the Carnotaurus hunt down members of the herd to feed on.
- Big No: Aladar shouts it two times.
- Book Ends: The beginning and end of the movie mirror each other in the arrangement of the nest, the view from inside the broken eggshell, and Yar's Urine Trouble problems with baby iguanodons.
- Carnivore Confusion: It might as well be retitled "Predators Are Mean Subtrope: The Movie!" Not one of the meat-eating animals seen onscreen talks. Furthermore, they are each designed to look as scary as possible. Carnotaurs in particular have exagerrately big heads with leering eyes and T. rex -like jaws, emit terrifying sounds without pause and are blood red.
- Cool Old Lady: Both Eema and Baylene.
- The Cretaceous Is Always Doomed: Since it's a dinosaur movie, we do get the obligatory meteor strike to kick off the plot, but the meteor damage appears to be confined to a relatively small area, and the dinosaurs manage to survive by migrating to the nearest fertile area. It's like they just assumed that giant meteors were a regular occurrence in the Cretaceous Era.
- Deadpan Snarker: Eema and Zini.
- Drool Hello
- Disney Villain Death: Played straight with one of the Carnotaurs (the one that's the Big Bad, that is).
- Empathic Environment: The storm during the whole cave scene.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Kron with Neera. He shows genuine sadness when she protects Aladar from him.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Kron.
- Five-Man Band:
- Furry Confusion: In a movie where none of the characters are (strictly speaking) anthropomorphic. Aside from the meat-eaters, there's the strange case of Url, a little ankylosaur who doesn't talk, sticks his tongue out and pants and drools, and who carries a stick in his mouth everywhere.
- Gentle Giant: Baylene is careful not to trample the tiniest dinosaurs in the herd.
- Grey and White Morality: Aladar and the lemurs are clearly good, but the dinosaurs forming Kron's herd are rather grey, since they follow the merciless rules of Social Darwinism but are also capable to altruistic acts and (except perhaps Kron) nobody of them seems to be irredeemable (see Bruton, Neera...). The non-talking predators are not black since they do what they do only for mere hunger.
- A Handful for An Eye: During the climax battle between Kron and Aladar.
- Happily Adopted: Aladar.
- Hate Sink: Kron.
- Herbivores Are Friendly: The main characters are all herbivores, and even the mean herbivore rivals are only trying to accomplish the greater good.
- Interspecies Adoption: Aladar is an Iguanadon raised by by lemurs.
- Inverse Law of Sharpness and Accuracy: Pretty much none of the Iguanadons opt to use their actual thumb spikes. Kron slightly uses his in his fight with Alador, and even then only nicks him (with a slash no less). Trying to fight a Carnotaur is done via tail whipping and tackling rather then stabbing it in the neck.
- Jerkass: While played quite straight with the despicable Kron, in Bruton's case it's played with. While Kron is ruthless and domineering, Bruton tends to think and be more flexible. He even tries to appeal to Kron's better nature at times. But after his death Kron is not swayed by anything except a beatdown from his own sister. After he tries to kill Aladar just for being right when he was wrong. Yeesh.
- Last Fertile Region: The Nesting Grounds
- Last of Her Kind: Baylene the Brachiosaurus.
- The Messiah: Aladar, so very much.
- Minimalist Cast: Only the main characters (Aladar, the four Lemurs, Baylene, Eema, Kron, Neera and Burton) and one Red Shirt Dino that briefly tags along with Kron have dialogue.
- Morality Pet: Neera is this to her brother.
- Moses in the Bulrushes: Aladar, though his separation from his birth family was accidental.
- Most Writers Are Primates: The reason given as to why there are modern-day lemurs in the movie is because Disney thought people needed something cute and human-like to relate to in a movie about dinosaurs. Really.
- Oh Crap: Kron, upon-realizing that the lake has evaporated since he was there last. And also when he flees from the Carnotaur and realizes that the ravine is too hard to climb.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Zini.
- Prehistoria: Critters from Triassic to Recent Period show up, but at least we don't have the stock volcano-filled, hellish landscape.
- Prehistoric Monster: Only Carnotaurs and Raptors qualify as this. All the other animals either have human-like intelligence or are portrayed in a realistic, docu-like way. Though Kron's and Bruton's look was modified to make them more menacing.
- The Promised Land: The Nesting Grounds goes with this as well.
- Ptero-Soarer: Maybe this has been the only real aversion in Fictionland.
- Real Is Brown: Played straight with most dinosaurs, which are generally grey-coloured; averted only with the heroes Aladar and Neera, both have pastel-coloured skins.
- Redemption Equals Death: Bruton. Not a great twist however, since he reveals he only has a harsh exterior pretty early on. Maybe Kron is a better example.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Suri.
- Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: The meteors destroy the lemurs' island and kill most of them.
- Save the Villain: The true villains might be the carnotaurs, but Kron still qualifies.
- Scenery Porn: They start with the jaw-dropping prologue (famously used as a teaser trailer) and they never look back.
- Science Marches On: Oviraptors were assumed to be nest raiders when they were first discovered, and named appropriately. Then it turned out, thanks to new technology, that the eggs they are usually found with contain baby Oviraptors. This is more a case of They Just Didn't Care, since this discovery was made several years before the movie.
- It should be noted, however, that this discovery does not completely rule out the inclusion of eggs in an Oviraptor's diet.
- Small Annoying Creature: Many viewers qualify the lemurs as this.
- Something That Begins With Boring: "Lemme guess--a rock."
- Square-Cube Law: Baylene is able to jump into water, which no animal of that size should be able to do. Averted though generally, as Baylene remains much slower moving than the other, smaller animals until reaching the Nesting Grounds.
- Stock Dinosaurs: Partially averted. The classic Four Dino Band T. rex, 'Brontosaurus', Stegosaurus and Triceratops is totally absent. We have instead four relatives: T.rex-looking Carnotaurus, brachiosaur Baylene, a small-sized Ankylosaurus and Styracosaurus Eema, and nameless Pachyrhinosaurus, which are smaller Triceratops with a wierd swollen nose instead of horns. We also have several dinos and other prehistoric critters that are uncommon in movies; and finally, Iguanodons as main characters is a novelty. And most of the dinosaurs are accurate-looking confronted with many other popular dino-films. Even Pteranodon is another case of aversion, since it was the poorly-known Pteranodon steinbergi instead of the iconic Pteranodon longiceps.
- Tail Slap: How the Iguanodons fight, they never seem to remember that they have claws. One of the Carnotauruses responds in kind, though they are fully aware of their whole arsenal.
- The not using of their claws is actually quite logical: to hit something they would have to get the claws close and attached to those claws comes their neck... All a predator would have to do is bite downwards and dead is the Dino.
- Team Spirit: "Stand together!"
- Unusual Animal Alliance: A prehistoric version.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Arguably Kron, although his behaviour verges on Knight Templar.
- What Could Have Been: The original goal was a film without dialogue but with a narrator; then the writers decided it would have been too docu-like without talking animals.
- Which is nothing compared to some of the other rumored plans for this film. Imagine a Paul Verhoven Disney movie.
- Also, the villain was actually originally going to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex instead of a Carnotaurus.
- What Were They Selling Again?: The animation and soundtrack are very nice.
- Incidentally, this is one of the few Disney animated features where there aren't any songs.