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Dinosaur: 2-Disc Collector's Edition DVD Review


Theatrical Release: May 19, 2000 / Running Time: 82 Minutes / Rating: PG

Directors: Ralph Zondag, Eric Leighton

Voice Cast: D.B. Sweeney (Aladar), Alfre Woodard (Plio), Ossie Davis (Yar), Max Casella (Zini), Hayden Panettiere (Suri), Samuel E. Wright (Kron), Julianna Margulies (Neera), Peter Siragusa (Bruton), Joan Plowright (Baylene), Della Reese (Eema)

Dinosaur is a film of extraordinary potential which as a whole does not live up to it. While ambitious and a delight for the senses, this is project driven by technology, not story, and that is its major shortcoming.

The live action division of Walt Disney Pictures acquired the script for Dinosaur in 1988. Six years later, they began shooting tests to see if they would be able to utilize technology in a way no one had before. This was 1994, while Pixar was busily working on Toy Story which would become the first film entirely animated by computers. If Disney was going to make a CGI film, they wanted to do it in a way all their own.

So, with Dinosaur, they filmed live action background plates in various parts of the world including Hawaii, Australia, Samoa, Venezuela, Florida, and California. Those backgrounds would be integrated and digitally fine-tuned to match the characters, which were wholly computer-animated, a first for Disney's own artists. The studio's digital animation department and "DreamQuest" (an effects division they had purchased not long ago) came together to form "The Secret Lab", a promising facility that could deliver state-of-the-art technology in film.

The Secret Lab closed in 2001, a year after Dinosaur was released, and to understand why, we must return to story. In his notes in this Collector's Edition DVD's nice 6-page fold-out insert, then-head of Walt Disney Feature Animation Thomas Schumacher states, "Dinosaur didn't come to us as a story we had to tell. It came to us as a concept we wanted to try." So while Dinosaur wows us with its unique world of visuals and innovations like the "Dino-cam" to simulate a stampeding carnotaur's point of view, its plot, outside of a few exciting action sequences, is a disappointing bore.

The egg in the center of the title screen houses the dinosaur at the center of "Dinosaur." Aladar comforts Zini after another mating session goes poorly.

The earliest concept of Dinosaur began with a dinosaur and a lemur. After many revisions, the story still centered around that dinosaur, an iguanodon called Aladar (voiced by D.B. Sweeney). The film starts out triumphantly, as we quickly take in the very much alive prehistoric universe with no dialogue uttered (outside some brief early narration, which is only again employed at the end of the film). We observe routine and peril, as a raging carnotaur attacks some prey. We also get our first taste of James Newton Howard's exhilarating score in this emphatic opening, while a single dinosaur egg is transported through this world by water, air, and a multitude of creatures. This egg is Aladar and it ends up among a family of lemurs.

Two of the lemurs, Plio (voiced by Alfre Woodard) and Yar (the recently deceased Ossie Davis) differ on what to do about the baby dinosaur who has just hatched in their presence. Plio yearns to help the defenseless newborn, while Yar is reluctant. Ultimately, the lemurs do raise Aladar in a jungle environment where there are none of his own. Dinosaur follows its magnificent first chapter with a so consciously cutesy lemur mating scene that's unworthy of the enthusiastic Newton Howard accompaniment. The sequence establishes the character of Zini (Max Casella, friend of "Doogie Howser, M.D."), the comic relief, as a goofy-looking lemur who thinks of himself as a ladies' man even though he's repeatedly failed at finding a mate.

The film then returns to delighting us with a beautiful shower of pink that soon turns deadly. In a harrowing sequence which resembles a nuclear explosion, the audience realizes fiery meteors are descending upon the seemingly benign Aladar and his silly lemur friends. The meteor shower scene lays down the framework of danger for the rest of the film, but unfortunately it's one of the last inspired sequences that's dramatically potent and visually awesome.

Dinosaur struggles to find its right tone, and it alternates between serving its artistic calling and an audience of 21st century children. While portions of the film are unabashedly frightening, the unnecessary cuteness detracts from the whole. Aladar and the surviving four lemurs join up with a pack of dinosaurs who are painfully marching to the promised land, known as "the nesting grounds." They catch up with the sophisticated Baylene (voice of Joan Plowright) and Della Reese in styrachosaur form (called Eema), a couple of slowpokes at the tail end of the march.

There's a bit of "survival of the fittest" philosophy thrown in too, care of the two harsh iguanodons leading the pack, Kron (Samuel E. Wright, a far cry from Sebastian the crab) and Bruton (Peter Siragusa). Also among the herd is Kron's sister, a "pretty" dinosaur named Neera (voiced by Juliana Margulies, once of TV's "ER"). Two words come to mind at first sight of this character and those words are "love interest."

Kron and Burton are the closest "Dinosaur" has to villains. One commands, the other enforces, and both push the herd as hard as they can to get to the nesting grounds. Zini, the self-prescribed "loooove monkey", has a hairdo inspired by "Seinfeld" character Cosmo Kramer.

That sounds like a pretty reasonable, if uninspired plot. But it is secondary to technology and both drop out midway through the film. This weak, near stand-still center places its stunning CGI characters in a dark setting, as they trek on in their increasingly hopeless journey to water and life. There's a lot of brooding, and very little of the film's two chief highlights (exuberance in the score and technical marvel) to rescue it. A title like Dinosaur (and this was in place from the start) implies something either epic (as if this would be the movie you think of when you hear the word) or uncreative. The film falls closer to the latter, with its boring center.

Dinosaur isn't a bad film, but it's a very frustrating one. How could a film so visually remarkable in pieces be so dull on the whole? Part of the answer may lie with Aladar, who as a protagonist is as one-dimensional and uninteresting as they get. More of the blame comes from the filmmakers not willing to venture new ground or take any chances structurally and scripturally.

You would need a story and structure that's remarkably humdrum in order to undermine the truly magnificent visual sequences and inherently fascinating subject matter of Dinosaur. Looking at the film, it doesn't seem to be so weak or offensive in the screenplay department. And yet overall, it's mediocre and forgettable, enough to make you wonder if some terrible fumble has occurred.

The film is a hybrid of computer animation and live action backgrounds. It's also a hybrid of thrilling, evocative spectacle and mundane character cuteness. The makers of Dinosaur were more interesting in exploring the medium than telling the story, and the efforts to appeal to youngsters ultimately harm the film. The trouble does not stem from having the prehistoric creatures talk (which they do not, during the magnificent opening sequence), but rather from what they say. It's trite, hip, and consciously cute. With the DVD's option to watch the movie with just sound effects, it is aimless and crippled still by that center section and also by the absence of the potent score.

Setting sky backdrop to airy gazes in profile. Can only mean one thing: dino love! Raptors! Why does it always have to be raptors? Can these ones open doors too?

Still, when allowed, the visual appeal conquers the plot deficiencies. The film never "feels" like an entirely manufactured production. There's an impressive level of realism to the characters, and the real-life backgrounds aptly match the CGI work to create a convincing environment. The world is a curious and delightful middle ground which is computer-animated but very creative. Life in Dinosaur stems from its mise-en-scθne and a few inspired sequences and not from plot at large.

Dinosaur's domestic gross of $138 million exceeded its mammoth production budget by ten million, made it Disney's biggest earner for 2000, and outdid other many box office hits of the year like Charlie's Angels and Erin Brockovich. But when all was considered, including a marketing campaign of nearly $30 million, Dinosaur performed below expectations. It didn't turn a profit until the international and home video markets were considered. When they are considered, Dinosaur is far from a flop, despite the reputation it has received.

As mentioned earlier, The Secret Lab closed and in the five years since this film, we haven't seen anything else as visually ambitious with the "Disney" name on it, unless it were followed by the name "Pixar." In a move that has disappointed enthusiasts of traditional animation (i.e. Disney's fanbase), the studio has vowed to move forth completely with three-dimensional computer animated productions for Feature Animation in the near future. This seems less of a return to the aesthetically pleasing artistic exploration of Dinosaur than a flocking towards the entirely CGI realms of box office smashes from Pixar and DreamWorks. While the latter's Shark Tale proved you don't need a critically-acclaimed CGI film to turn a profit, settling on a medium for popular appeal won't get you very far artistically. Pixar has succeeded with heart and imaginative writing, two things sorely lacking in Dinosaur.

Buy Dinosaur: Collector's Edition from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French),
DTS 5.1 (English), TheatreVision descriptive track
Subtitles: English
Closed Captioned
Release Date: January 31, 2001
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99


Dinosaur is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and even four years later, this remains about one of the most beautiful-looking transfers I've seen on a DVD. The direct digital nature of the transfer helps explain why it's pristine, but it seems to exceed normal definitions of perfection. It's invigorating how flawless the picture is, and this flawlessness makes it easy for you to appreciate the film's beauty. Colors are capably rendered, with no incident, and there appears to be nothing in the way of edge enhancement or color banding, two problems which turn up the most in other new DVDs. For the dark, dull center portions of Dinosaur, not much can be done to render them vibrant (or too exciting), but the transfer doesn't break up in handling the low-contrast scenes. A pan-and-scan version of the film is only offered on the single-disc standard DVD. As it should be.

This DVD packs a 5.1-channel DTS soundtrack, which today usually only turns up on direct-to-video discs which have lots of disc space to spare. The sound is as cinematically rendered and awe-inspiring as the picture. From the stampeding carnotaur's potent use of bass to the engulfing environments that surround you with the sounds of nature, Dinosaur excels at creating a realistic and dramatic aural atmosphere. There is undeniable skillfulness to the design of the sound mix, which a 5.1 sound effects-only track allows you to fully admire. Throw in James Newton Howard's first-rate score and you have one nice and exhilarating sound presentation. All of the elements come together for an effective soundtrack, complete with projectile rocks and powerful rainstorms.

A nuisance of all Disney DVDs of the time, audio tracks cannot be adjusted during playback. This makes it difficult to compare the DTS to the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which doesn't sound too much different from the DTS, but is mixed at a lower volume. You also can't switch to one of the two audio commentaries, French language track, or descriptive narration for the visually impaired without going to the menu and starting from scratch.

Released to DVD in late January 2001, Dinosaur became the first Disney film to receive both standard and two-disc collector's edition treatment on the same day. Four years ago, Disney's DVDs didn't run as smoothly as they do now. Dinosaur is plagued by some slow-loading menus, and gave several a DVD player some problems back then. On better players of today, playback should be without incident, save for pronounced layer change.

This scene progression illustrates the  3D workbook stage of production. Julianna Margulies records the voice of Neera in a recording session clip from the "Film Fact Fossil Dig." A storyboard from one of the deleted scenes in "Film Fact Fossil Dig."


Dinosaur: Collector's Edition is pretty robust when it comes to bonus features and not all of them are relegated to Disc Two. The supplement with the longest runtime is the audio commentary, and Dinosaur has two. In the first, Directors Eric Leighton and Ralph Zondag are joined by visual effects supervisor Neil Krepela and digital effects supervisor Neil Eskuri. The technical aspects of the film are widely covered, as you might expect, but it makes for a pretty dry track. The more interesting sections discuss some intentions they hoped to convey, as well as audience reaction and how it determined some changes in pacing and such.

Producer Pam Marsden hosts the second track, which edits together comments from several members of the production team, including composer James Newton Howard, co-producer Baker Bloodworth, and art director Cristy Maltese. Each speaker offers their own perspective on the film. Even though there's no group atmosphere, the melding of the individual comments with no overlap and no pretenses of being recorded together works well. Two additional audio options are offered. A sound effects-only track in Dolby Digital 5.1 enables you to admire the impressive Foley work that went into fully assembling this prehistoric world. And for the visually impaired or easily amused, there is a TheaterVision soundtrack which describes all of the on-screen action. For its intended audience, it's a useful service which doesn't show up nearly as often as it should.

There are three ways to enjoy "Film Fact Fossil Dig", a collection of behind-the-scenes material. The first one doesn't always work, but when it does, it displays a fossil icon during playback of the film at which point if you press enter, you are taken to the supplement. While it's an innovative way to integrate bonus features into the film (a precursor to the "video commentaries" that depart from playback for vignettes), it also disables the pause button for some of the running time. A more straightforward way of watching this content is offered with a menu that presents a list of the fourteen interludes for quick access and a "Play All" option. The third way is to go through the Chapter Selection menu; scenes which enable you to dig deeper are marked by a dinosaur head fossil icon.

There's pretty interesting content to be found in this section and it runs 31 minutes altogether. Among the highlights: several deleted scenes ranging from fully-animated but not colored to storyboards and crude animatics. There's a neat split-screen comparison of foley artists creating sound effects and how the effects are used in the film, plus a more commonly-seen storyboard comparison. An alternate ending turns up, as does an alternate edit of the opening in "3D workbook" form. Among the lengthier pieces are the original version of 6-minute segment that was shot at night but redone to look like dusk in the film and a progression reel which shows the numerous layers that come together to make one shot of the meteor shower scene. In addition, there's some footage of lemurs, a featurette on the use of miniatures, and perhaps most interesting, part of a recording session with D.B. Sweeney and Julianna Margulies.

Aladar's Adventure DinoSearch The DVD-ROM menu

Aladar's Adventure is an elaborate interactive game, where you travel on a three-dimensional first-person tour through some caves for three different levels. First, you set off in search of Eema, Baylene, and Earl. Then you try to gather water. In the last and most irritating round, you have to move rocks in a correct order to get to the nesting grounds. While the computer-animated design is impressive, it's mostly just using the arrows to move through dark places and hopefully not get eaten by any carnotaurs. There have been more entertaining set-top activities since this, but this still offers a bit of diversion and plenty of frustration too. The second game, DinoSearch, is far simpler and kind of odd. A model of a dinosaur is provided and you must find the pieces obscured among a setting.

Dinopedia is a child-oriented feature which seeks to educate with some facts about dinosaurs. In ten short clips of film footage, the young narrator informs the viewer about the different types of creatures seen in the film. With the "Play All" option, this section runs 7 minutes and 25 seconds.

The DVD-ROM section doesn't offer too much, but if you're a big enough fan of the film and computer-savvy enough, it's worth checking out. Mostly, it just links to the already covered games and Dinopedia supplements. A tiny gallery at the bottom of the window provides some pictures of each character. The "Online" section adds more, housing eight colorful wallpapers each offered in three different resolutions. There was once a couple of additional behind-the-scenes featurettes to download from the Internet, but while the page loads, the videos no longer do. Lastly, the Evolutionary Timeline provides a simple chronological overview of life as we understand it. In a touch that's either nice or annoying depending on your disposition, the menus of the DVD-ROM content feature some ambient noises from the prehistoric age.

At the time Dinosaur's DVDs were released, Collector's Editions went straight to the menu without playing the Sneak Peeks automatically. (This was the day when automatic previews were still new and unusual on DVDs.) Still, a Sneak Peeks menu on Disc 1 offers promos for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney's California Adventure, Atlantis, Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure, 102 Dalmatians, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, and the Atlantis prequel video game. There's no option to "Play All", so if you're interested in all of these, you'll have to select them one at a time.

Proof of Concept Test, March 1996 A still from the Visual Development gallery. Eric Leighton, one of "Dinosaur"'s two directors, talks about the film on Disc 2.


The second disc offers no paucity of bonus material. Much of it is technically oriented, as it would be for such a state-of-the-art production. Numerous featurettes explore how the prehistoric world was brought to life via a combination of live action footage from exotic locations and breakthrough computer animation. Sprinkled throughout the supplements disc are four exciting Easter Eggs which are everything they should be - loosely related and not something which you'd feel cheated not knowing about, but cool rewards for those with keen eyes.

The first section, Development, houses a number of reels from the years before Dinosaur came to theaters. These reels establish that the visuals in the film could be pulled off. First is "Proof of Concept Test, March 1996" a 2-minute clip with some pretty much complete animation (in Cinemascope) and a bit of storyboards depicting a scene between what would become Aladar and Zini. While it's not as refined as the final product, it certainly seems they had most of the technology down there. "Live Action Backplate Test" from October 1996 is brief (22 seconds) showing a couple of fraternal dinosaurs walking through impressive live action scenery. Next, the "Early Presentation Reel", dated December 1996, shows off mostly conceptual artwork and bit of animated composites to preview what the film might look like. It's presented in fullscreen and runs just under 2 minutes. Then the "Presentation Reel" (1:40) from October 1998 is a trailer of sorts which shows some entirely completed scenes and others in progress, with uninspired "dramatic" text screens like "an uncommon hero" and "a desperate journey" It seems like most of the completed footage is culled from the terrific opening, which would make sense that it was done first. Finally, a Visual Development gallery holds 74 stills of artwork (both black-and-white and colored) and on-location photography.

The first Easter Egg on Disc 2 can be found in this section and it is a great one which animation enthusiasts will recognize as one of the medium's very first projects, Winsor McCay's "Gertie the Dinosaur" (1914). It's easy to appreciate as an important chapter in the history of animation. In this short, excerpted from a Disneyland episode with a brief introduction from Uncle Walt, the charismatic animator McCay interacts with Gertie, giving her orders which she sometimes obeys. More than 90 years later, the short still has plenty of charm. Altogether, with the explanatory notes at the end, this hidden bonus runs 6 minutes and 22 seconds.

Computers (and people) bring Url to life. Conceptual artwork of Kron from his Character Design gallery. A creepy still from the Preliminary Lemur Design gallery. Looking at this frightened monkey is research for an animator.

Creating the Characters is divided into two sections - "Dinosaurs" and "Lemurs." The former category gives us "Designing the Dinosaurs" (7:20), an informative but dry featurette on how the characters came to life through computer animation. "Building the Dinosaurs" (7:38) focuses more on how the animators tried to convey different things in the physical appearance of the dinosaurs. Finally, there's a massive Character Design section. For Aladar, Kron, Neera, Bruton, Baylene, Eema, Url, Carnotaurs, and Velociraptor, you'll find a gallery of conceptual artwork (ranging from three stills for Baylene to 40 in Aladar's gallery) and a turnaround where the 3-dimensional computer model remains still and rotates 360 degrees twice for you, the audience. There are still additional turnarounds for nine herd dinosaurs, and nearly 100 more designs for unused characters. Suffice it to say, there's a lot of design artwork.

The "Lemurs" section follows the same structure. "Building the Lemurs" (7:08) looks at the design of the lemurs, who they admit did not exist around the time of the dinosaurs. We mostly see animators tinkering with computers, but it's interesting to see how the lemurs went through a stage of humanlike proportions to their final look in the film. It's also odd to see what the lemurs look like before they get covered with fur, the creation of which is documented. This section also houses design galleries and turnarounds for Plio, Yar, Zini, and Suri. In addition, 44 stills showcase the preliminary lemur designs that were wisely retooled for the final film.

In this characters section, you'll find another Easter Egg. This one is an outtakes reel (1:30), but it's not like the ones Pixar makes, so no need to fear dinosaurs acting. This is actually made up of errors in computing that made for some odd results. It's silent, black-and-white, and each error is seen twice in a row, so it's not exactly going for entertainment value or laughs. But it does show some odd visuals.

Footage from different continents comes together to create a prehistoric world. The lemurs in a split-screen comparison of story reel to final film. The Opening Sequence is broken down in the Progression Reel. Here we see the 3D Storybook stage.

The third section of Disc 2 is called The Production Process. It opens with "Creating a Prehistoric World", a slick and entertaining 8-minute overview of the techniques used in Dinosaur, complemented by a nice selection of clips from the film. "The Monster Cloud" (4:08) documents one of the film's most memorable scenes, the one in which a harrowing presence attacks the dinosaurs, which we recognize as a meteor shower and a disastrous wave. This featurette breaks down the pyrotechnics used to create the dazzling explosions, with comments from several crew members who worked on it with miniatures and phosphor. "The Dino Cam" (1:47) is a reel which takes you through the various stages which come together to create the first-person carnotaur stampede. It's accompanied by commentary from Digital Effects Supervisor Neil Eskuri, who explains each of the stages, from story sketches to 3D workbook to live action background plate, through the final composite.

In the "Story Reel & 3D Workbook" listing, you get to view the 4-minute sequence "Aladar Joins the Herd" in a number of different ways. First you can choose to view the sequence at full-size in "Story Reel", "3D Workbook" (primitive computer animation where different character groups are represented by bright colors), or as it appears in the "Final Film." (You can toggle between these three stages with the "Angle" button on your DVD remote.) Through "Comparisons to Final Film", you get to view a split-screen of the sequence with the final product in the bottom half. In the top half, you can choose to view the sequence "Story Reel" or "3D Workbook", and you can toggle between the two with the "Angle" button. It's interesting to compare among the different stages, but you probably won't find enough appeal to view all five different combinations separately.

Three Progression Reels take you step-by-step from story sketch to final composite through the "Opening Sequence" (4:25), "Aladar Meets the Misfits" (1:50), and "Aladar Finds Water" (1:12). The various components of each complex shot are isolated and elaborated on by Mr. Eskuri, who again provides audio commentary here.

This section holds a third Easter Egg, which is a 1964 clip of Walt Disney with three baby Brontosauruses who he dubs Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Of course, they're not real Brontosauruses, they're part of the Disney studio's contributions to the New York World's Fair. Walt talks a bit about dinosaurs and footage then shows the Audio-Animatronics being produced and showcased. With the explanatory scroll at the end, this runs just under 5 minutes.

Walt hangs out with his Brontosaurus friends. James Newton Howard talks about the "Music." An abandoned scene in storyboard form.

Music & Sound houses two short featurettes. "Music" (3 minutes) offers praise for composer James Newton Howard and discusses the interesting blend he brought to scoring the film, in his attempts to create something not identifiable with any specific culture. Lebo M, whose screaming vocals so memorably open The Lion King was brought in to help with the choral elements. "Sound Design" (3 minutes) briefly covers its subject with some information about what was used to create the sound effects in the film. We hear comments from Foley artists and some of the voice cast. "Audio Mix Demonstration" coolly allows you to view a 1-minute scene from the meteor shower sequence with just dialogue, just music, just sound effects, or a mixture of any of those. It's cool to have that kind of power!

In Abandoned Scenes, we find six sequences which were deleted somewhere along the film's production. Each is presented in letterboxed widescreen and preceded with a few sentences explaining where the scene would have fit. None of the scenes are entirely finished visually, so even with the context, it's tough to consider how they would have worked in the film. Furthermore, several of the scenes were from an earlier version when the Aladar character was called Noah, and his grandparents and he were part of the march to the nesting grounds.

The scenes are in various stages of production, from storyboards with minimal color to 3D workbook and fully-animated (but not colored). For the most part, temporary dialogue tracks (which are somewhat distorted) and an electronic sounding score (which doesn't hold a candle to Newton Howard's fine work) are employed.

None of Disc 1's deleted scenes are repeated here, although one sheds some light on the alternate ending that's there. Altogether, though there is 13 minutes of footage, most of it seems disposable at least within the frustrating final cut of the film. These abandoned scenes illustrate that there certainly was development and creative work that went into the film. But it just didn't all come together right.

Psychedelic "Dinosaur" care of one of Disc 1's Deleted Scenes in 3D Workbook form. A "Dinosaur" poster from the Print Advertising gallery. "Recycle Rex", the curious Easter Egg with an environmentally-conscious message for all.

The Publicity section shows off the seemingly skillful way in which Dinosaur was marketed. Three trailers are provided. First is the nearly 5-minute preview comprised mostly of the amazing beginning sequence (this played before Toy Story 2 in theaters and was on Tarzan's DVDs). The other two are a more standard clip-montage (2½ minutes) and an appealing convention trailer which strings together impressive dialogue-less shots. There are four cool TV Spots, something we rarely see on Disney DVDs, included. The 30-second snippets promote different aspects, and can make it look like a very different film from the kid-friendly spot which uses "Walk the Dinosaur" to the more dramatic countdown back through time. A "Play All" option would have been nice. All of the video previews essentially shun from the using clips from the dark, dull middle sequences that comprise a significant portion of the film. This is another wise decision, and yet even with the keen marketing, the result was a disappointing box office performance. Go figure. In Print Advertising, there are 14 stills of promotional and poster artwork.

From the Publicity menu, you'll find another Easter Egg. This is an educational cartoon called "Recycle Rex" which features an environmentally-conscious dinosaur named Rex who seeks to make sure people don't make a lot of waste and do reuse resources. Other than the obvious (the characters are cartoon dinosaurs), there's nothing to connect it with the film, but it's a delightfully quirky little extra, complete with a musical number. With credits, it runs twelve minutes.

Disc 1's Main Menu Disc 2's Main Menu


As mentioned earlier, the menus can be slow to load on some DVD players, particularly older ones. That's because they're among the most ambitious of Disney's earlier DVDs - fully-animated accompanied by score. All of the menus on Disc 1 are 16x9-enhanced (as are several of the bonus features) and the main menu cycles through various scenes within a big dino paw print. Before loading into the Main Menu, Disc 2 very cleverly depicts the opening carnotaur dash in its final form and then in various stages of animation and the live action footage by itself. The Disc 2 menus (in 4x3) are all neatly designed and transitioned like a computer in an office. Almost all the menus are animated and accompanied by some stellar selections of score. Some may prefer simpler menus (which Disney has adopted as part of its EasyFind system these days), but I was quite impressed the first time I saw these selection screens, and they still boast a lot of effort in design, even if they don't play fluidly. Plus, the long introductions can be skipped if you'd like.

Inside the case, you'll find the Spring 2001 catalogue of all of Disney's DVDs (they've since stopped printing these) and an utterly expired coupon book. But the real nice thing is the six-page fold-out insert printed on thick cardboard stock. This contains three pages of notes from then Feature Animation President Thomas Schumacher and plenty of pleasing photography from the film, plus a map of Disc 2's extras, and a chapter listing.

It's like Jurassic Park without the Park! The disheartened faces are the result of there being no nesting grounds over the hill. But they could also be from watching the middle section of "Dinosaur."


This two-disc Collector's Edition of Dinosaur ranks up there with one of the best DVD releases the studio has put out. The film isn't bad, but it's uneven and disappointing dramatically in contrast to the spectacular visuals. Those visuals are splendidly conveyed, as is an immersive sound mix with first-rate digital video and audio presentation. While a good general documentary would have made for a fine inclusion, the specific featurettes are substantial and thorough enough to satisfy with their coverage of this interesting production from various perspectives. The highlights of Disc 2 are many from revealing development reels to theatrical release marketing, from the audio mix demonstration to massive art galleries, with several scene deconstructions and some neat Easter Eggs thrown in for good measure. If Dinosaur were a better film, almost any DVD collector would have this fantastic set in their collection already. Nonetheless, the feature presentation and exhaustive supplements certainly help you appreciate what went right and what went wrong with this fascinating chapter in the history of Disney animation.

More on the DVD

Related Reviews (2-Disc Collector's Editions):
Tarzan (1999)
The Emperor's New Groove (2000)
A Bug's Life (1998)
Finding Nemo (2003)
Brother Bear (2003)

UltimateDisney.com | Review Index | Other Disney Animation Page | Disney's Special Edition DVDs

Reviewed February 16, 2005.

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