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Movie Review: “Walking with Dinosaurs”

20th Century Fox/BBC(NEW YORK) -- Walking with Dinosaurs isn’t exactly a good movie.  At least, it’s not for adults.  But for kids, it’s a grand slam.

John Leguizamo is the voice of Alex, a colorful prehistoric bird that, like all of the animals in the film, did actually once exist.  Alex narrates the action, telling the story of his friend Patchi (voiced by Justin Long), a young pachyrhinosaurus who’s the runt of his litter. His brother, Scowler (voiced by Skyler Stone), is a bully who tends to pick on our young hero.  This very predictable story also includes a love interest for Patchi, named Juniper (voiced by Tiya Sircar), as well as the dreaded gorgosauruses -- kind of like a tyrannosaurus -- who enjoy eating a tasty pachyrhinosaurus.

Because of his size, everything is an uphill battle for Patchi, but this little dinosaur of course has a big heart, which gives him a fighting chance, and gives moviegoers an extremely accessible and winning theme for the kids.

Also for the kids?  The insipid, mind-numbing dialogue, akin to the faux-cool forced dialogue you find in most any kids’ cable TV show.  It’s also impossible not to notice that the dinos’ mouths rarely move when they speak, which is certainly an odd choice.  Whatever the reason for it, your kids aren’t going to especially care, especially if they already love dinosaurs.  If your child doesn’t, they will after they see these 66-million-year-old creatures spectacularly come to life.

Walking with Dinosaurs is indeed a 3D spectacle.  Thanks to technology used in James Cameron’s Avatar, you’ve never seen dinosaurs quite like this.  As an offshoot of the BBC’s popular TV series of the same name, this movie is also educational, occasionally using visual devices and humorous voiceovers, aided by Leguizamo’s Alex, to explain each dinosaur we encounter on Patchi’s adventure. 

To be fair, it’s pretty clear Walking with Dinosaurs isn’t really meant to intellectually satisfy adults.  Instead, older audience members will have to settle for being in awe of the masterful visuals, including the gorgeous vistas, while the younger set laughs at the childish gross-out jokes, and emotionally engages in a story they won’t find quite as satisfying once they pass the age of 12.

Three out of five stars.

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ABC News Radio