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The Man from Earth (reviewed by Ben)

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Friday, March 7, 2008


During the first seven minutes of Disney’s 2000 animated feature Dinosaur, it’s hard not to think you are in the presence of something special. In a boundless vista where various species of dinosaurs are going about their business, a tiny predator uses a Tyrannosaurus Rex attack as cover to snatch an egg from an Iguanodon nest. Fumbling his lunch, the thief watches as the egg disappears, traveling by land, sea and air (via Pterodactyl) to a new home countless miles away from Mom. The scene plays out with only the roars and grunts of prehistoric animals, until the egg finally comes to rest near the home of a family of friendly lemurs.

And then the lemurs begin to talk. Spell broken.

As it turns out, not only do lemurs talk, but so does Aladar, the heroic creature who ultimately hatches from the egg. And as it happens, they’re all one big happy, fuzzy and/or scaly family who put their differences in species aside to romp together like a loving Disney clan.

Once the initial promise of a wordless recreation of the dinosaur world (the original premise for the script which was vetoed by Disney) has passed, the story continues in an engaging fashion, albeit with a dark turn. Apparently, these prehistoric creatures are unfortunate enough to live in the time when the Deathstar (a giant meteor that supposedly wiped out the dinosaurs) hit the earth, the meteor strike being another scene that took our kid’s breath away.

As popular science readers or Discovery Channel watchers know, the Deathstar did not wipe out species worldwide just by its impact, but instead allegedly blasted millions of tons of dust into the upper atmosphere where it stayed for years, blocking out the sun and killing the vegetation at the bottom of the dinosaur food chain. In Dinosaur, the drought leads to a mass exodus of all species of dinosaurs searching for a promised land where water and food are still plentiful.

The major post-impact drama of the film involves Aladar struggling with the ruthless leaders of the dinosaur caravan as they trek across barren landscapes, with predators dogging them and internal strife rampant. His interaction with Kron, the cruel-to-be-kind leader of the pack, is complicated by his dedication to an older, slower Triceratops and Brontosaurus who are perpetually on the verge of being left behind, as well as Aladar’s romantic interest in Kron’s sister Neera.

Despite some disappointment over what Dinosaur could have been, the film was a big hit with audiences and with our family, with the kids equally engaged with both the intense visuals and dialog-driven drama (which proves yet again that Disney knows something we don’t). And it was certainly good to see familiar creatures from the old How and Why Wonder Book of Dinosaurs brought to life on the screen (although we’re still trying to figure out what happened to the Brontosaurus of our youth which seems to have disappeared from most of our kid’s dinosaur books).

And while we’re closing on a tangent, just when did Saturn get all of those extra moons?

Whose Pick: Dad


Eli: 4/5
Ben: 5/5
Mom: 4/5
Dad: 3.5/5

Total: 16.5/20

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