This summer, the only animated blockbuster Disney is releasing is Dinosaur. No traditional animated movies with songs and a hit soundtrack this year. Only a beautiful blend of live action scenery and computer generated dinosaurs. And since it is from Disney, it will make large amounts of money regardless of whether or not it is a good movie. But again, it is a Disney animated movie, so chances are relatively good that it is above par. Simply put, Dinosaur is a Disney movie, and all of the attributes that go with one are here (i.e., lack of a mother, happy ending...).

The story by John Harrison and Robert Nelson Jacobs is even simpler than many other animated films. The sweeping beginning (the same short seen in the trailers) shows an egg as it passes between dinosaurs before landing on an island. Aladar (D.B. Sweeney, Goosed, Fox's Harsh Realm), and Iguanadon, grew up among a family of lemurs led by Yar (Ossie Davis, Old Hats, Paul Robeson: Here I Stand) and Plio (Alfre Woodard, Love and Basketball, Mumford). When meteors begin falling, Aladar helps his adopted family escape to the mainland, where for the first time he meets other dinosaurs. They are looking for their fabled breeding grounds, travelling under the leadership of Kron (Samuel Wright, The Little Mermaid). Aladar is different from the other dinosaurs, and Kron's sister Neera (Juliana Marguiles, The Newton Boys, NBC's ER) notices this. Kron, a believer in the Darwinian principles of letting the strong survive, is willing to sacrifice the weak if they do not make the journey. Aladar wants to make sure that everyone reaches the breeding grounds.

Everything else is standard and predictable. The element setting Dinosaur far above animated movies is the animation. First, most of the backgrounds are real. Apparently, directors Ralph Zondag and Eric Leighton felt (correctly so) that although rendered backgrounds look amazingly realistic, the real thing is better. They went on location to Florida, Hawaii, Venezuela, Jordan, Western Samoa, and other exotic locations around the world to get the different looks along Aladar's journey. Even with the present day locations, the scenery still looks otherworldly. The result is awe-inspiring. The computer-generated graphics are also impressive, especially the lemurs. The careful attention to detail is seen when the wind blows individual hairs on the lemurs. The dinosaurs blend seamlessly into their environments, looking extremely life-like (with the standard Disney anthropomorphization). Kids will undoubtedly enjoy Dinosaurs, and parents and everyone else will probably just marvel at the visual display in front of them.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 25 minutes, Raged PG for intense images.

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