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Details At A Glance

Category Family Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary - Eric Leighton (Director), Ralph Zondag (Director), Neil Krepala (Visual Effects Supervisor), Neil Eskuri (Digital Effects Supervisor)
Game - Aladar's Adventure
Game - DinoSearch
Featurette - Dinopedia
Active Subtitle Track - Fossil (also accessible from menu)
Alternate Ending
Music Video - Orange Blue
Theatrical Trailer
Rating pg.gif (1010 bytes)
Year Released 2000
Running Time
78:40 Minutes
(Not 82 minutes as per packaging)
RSDL/Flipper Dual Layer
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Eric Leighton
Ralph Zondag
WaltDisney.gif (5513 bytes)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Starring D.B. Sweeney
Alfre Woodard
Ossie Davis
Max Casella
Hayden Panettiere
Samuel E. Wright
Julianna Margulies
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $36.95 Music James Newton Howard

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9Yes.jpg (4536 bytes)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement Yes, the whole point of these films is to advertise toys, really
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    So why did I, of all people, volunteer to assess Dinosaur, I hear you ask? Well, the choice had a lot to do with wanting to see how the new animation style would scrub up on my equipment. Given that there are Hollywood productions making use of computer hardware to an extent that not even Silicon Valley or Bill Gates could have dreamed up five years ago, it begs the question of where films are going and what will happen along the way. It seems we have all the visual details down to perfection - now all we need is to get a little better at the story-telling element.

    The story begins with a herd of moderately-sized dinosaurs tending to their nests, with a younger member of the herd continually buzzing the expectant mothers until it follows an insect into the forest. Unfortunately, the forest in question just happens to be the hiding place of a very large Tyrannosaurus Rex, who chases the entire herd out of their nesting area, killing one of them along the way. In the chaos, an egg is left behind, where it is picked up by another dinosaur who proceeds to lose it in the river, where it is picked up by a Pterosaur who, after carrying it across the oceans, proceeds to lose it in a rainforest. Here, the egg hatches, and Aladar the Iguanadon (D.B. Sweeney) emerges into the care of a clan of lemurs that includes such characters as Plio (Alfre Woodard) and Zini (Max Casella), to name but a few.

    Okay, so lemurs and other such primates didn't exist until after the dinosaurs died out, but this is a work of fiction, and a Disney one at that. After meeting with a mixed reception from the lemurs, Aladar is eventually accepted into the tribe and raised as one of their own. We are then treated to a slice of life in the lemur colony that is one half Discovery Channel style and the other half sorbitol. Unfortunately, the lemurs' home is soon destroyed by a meteor storm, so Aladar takes his adoptive family with him to join a group of dinosaurs on the long, dangerous journey to the relative safety of the nesting grounds. Said group of dinosaurs is led by the aggressively power-hungry Kron (Samuel E. Wright), who is driving the pack mercilessly in spite of all sense and the compassion represented by Neera (Julianna Margulies).

    I'm still not sure exactly what to think of this film, as I am quite clearly outside of the target audience, although I was quite clearly outside of the target audience even when statistics would have had it that I was in the target audience, if you get my meaning. Nonetheless, if digitally animated dinosaurs is your thing, and you already own Walking With Dinosaurs, this may well be worthy of your consideration.

Transfer Quality


    One thing you can always count on with these digital animation features is that they will be in relatively pristine condition when the time comes to transfer them to home video. Indeed, I only counted a single noticeable artefact within the first forty-five minutes of the film, and I am sure most people will only be dimly aware of it.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. This is a slight variation from the 1.85:1 aspect ratio that the film was presented in theatres with, but considering that the film was also presented in digital theatres with an aspect ratio of 1.50:1, I believe that picture has been added to the top and bottom of the frame to achieve this ratio.

    This transfer is sharp. Sharp enough to create a certain reality that was never really achieved in other animated features such as A Bug's Life or Toy Story, at least in my opinion. The shadow detail of this transfer is excellent, with so much detail on offer in the dark sections of the picture that it's almost like watching a real herd of dinosaurs (bad joke, I know). There is, of course, no low-level noise to be found in this transfer.

    The colours are vibrant, but not exactly what I would call bright, except maybe during such sequences as the meteor shower. The main characters alone have enough shades of brown and green in them to keep the human eye busy, and the scenery will simply send colour junkies into overload. Needless to say, there are no composite artefacts to be found.

    MPEG artefacts were not a problem for this transfer, surprisingly so considering that the bitrate rarely gets above seven and a half megabits per second. The film in general looks so smooth and natural that is it hard to believe it was compressed at all. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some aliasing, the most noticeable example being one at 42:09 on Neera's neck that you'd have to be extremely quick to notice. Other instances of aliasing include really small examples at 42:09, 60:47, 62:02, and 68:55, but none of these were particularly intrusive or even noticeable. The only bothersome aliasing was in the end credits, where the text shimmers quite annoyingly as it scrolls up the screen. There were no film artefacts in the picture, as you'd rightly expect with a feature of this type.

    This disc is Dual Layered, but no discernible layer change was detected during the feature. Given the relatively short running time, the average bitrate of the transfer, and the number of extras on the disc, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the entire film has been compressed onto a single layer.


    Mated with a demonstration-quality video transfer is a demonstration-quality audio transfer, one that DVD was invented to provide.

    There are two soundtracks presented on this DVD: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1 with a bitrate of 384 kilobits a second, and an English audio commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0 with a bitrate of 192 kilobits a second. I listened to both of these soundtracks.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, with very little effort required to understand what is being said. Indeed, much of the story doesn't even require much dialogue to move it forward, so following what is going on will not present any problems. There were no discernible problems with audio sync, since all the dialogue was recorded after the visuals were completed anyway.

    I am not a fan of composer James Newton Howard. I say that because the score music in this film is very appropriate and moving, giving each and every scene an appropriate feel. In a way, the music rescues the film from being just another Disney film, which makes a nice change from the syrupy pap that I am used to hearing in other Disney films. Parents of small children will have no problems with owning the score music on a separate disc, and I have no problem recommending it over the film itself.

    The surround channels were quite aggressively utilized to support all manner of sounds. Music, flying dinosaurs or insects, grunts, growls, and a plethora of other sound effects were consistently directed around the speakers to create a soundfield that was very immersive. The George Lucas school of thought that sound is at least half the experience in a film was obviously in effect here, because even the quiet sequences have enough surround activity to draw the viewer in. At no time did the soundfield collapse in any true sense of the term.

    The subwoofer had a whale of a time supporting the growls and footsteps of the dinosaurs, as well as a number of other bass-heavy effects that kept the floor gently rumbling.



    The menu is heavily animated, features Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, features an introduction, and is 16x9 Enhanced to boot. Navigation is a pretty simple affair.

Audio Commentary - Eric Leighton (Director), Ralph Zondag (Director), Neil Krepala (Visual Effects Supervisor), Neil Eskuri (Digital Effects Supervisor)

    This Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio commentary features Eric Leighton, Ralph Zondag, Neil Krepala, and Neil Eskuri talking about the combinations of plate photography and digital animation that were used to make the film. Eric and Ralph speak constantly about all of the processes involved in making each sequence, providing a rather enlightening insight. The only real problem with this commentary is that it becomes difficult to discern the difference between each voice.

Game - Aladar's Adventure

    A simple game, with voiceovers, in which you must find some of Aladar's companions and lead them to water. The game might be okay for children to play with, but it's nowhere near as interesting as the games on the Region 1 version of Shanghai Noon.

Game - DinoSearch

    Another simple game, in which one must find pieces of a selected dinosaur to bring them to life. Again, this is not the most interesting example I have seen of this feature.

Featurette - Dinopedia

    This option takes the viewer to a submenu of featurettes on the dinosaurs that appear in the film. The featurettes are rather brief and cursory, not offering any particularly interesting facts about their subjects.

Active Subtitle Track - Fossil

    Referred to as a Behind-The-Scenes Viewing Mode in the extras menu, this option allows you to view the film with a Fossil Icon appearing at selected moments in the film. Selecting the option takes you to another menu that gives a choice between three ways of viewing the Behind-The-Scenes material. One of these options allows you to see a dinosaur-skull icon in the top left corner during the film whenever there is a deleted scene or production featurette available which is relevant to the chapter in question. In order, such material is encoded into Chapters 1, 3, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, and 26. Each of the short featurettes presented in this fashion features an introduction by one of the crew members, and is of much greater value than the other example of this feature I remember seeing to date (The Matrix).

Alternate Ending

    The last of the featurettes accessible via the Behind-The-Scenes Viewing Mode menu, this is a two minute and forty-four second alternate version of the final sequence, presented in extremely rough form. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced.

Music Video - Orange Blue

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0, this music video is not 16x9 Enhanced. It isn't particularly interesting, either. While I'm at it, Buena Vista (and others), could we please encode our music videos with timing information and list them in the menu with both the name of the artist and the song, please?

Theatrical Trailer

    Also annoyingly presented without timing information, this trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. It is not 16x9 Enhanced. It is not exactly the most inspiring theatrical trailer that you're ever likely to see, since it simply presents an overly long clip from the film without any editing, thus giving away far too much of the film.


    As far as we've been able to determine, there are no specific censorship issues with this title (it is a Disney film, after all).

R4 vs R1

    There are two versions of this disc available in Region 1: a Collector's Edition, and lesser-specified edition. For the purposes of this comparison, I will be listing the differences between the Region 4 version, the Region 2 version, and the Region 1 Collector's Edition.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 2 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 standard edition and the local Region 4 disc both miss out on a second disc full of extras, as well as a DTS soundtrack. Widescreen Review have given the DTS soundtrack on Collector's Edition a score of five, so this alone makes the Region 1 Collector's Edition the obvious choice, but a rather expensive one at a list price of forty American dollars.


    Dinosaur is an excellent display of animation at its finest, but the story is somewhat wanting.

    The video transfer is excellent.

    The audio transfer is excellent.

    The extras are quite numerous.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
April 19, 2001

Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer