Dinosaur Project, The (Blu-ray) (2012)
System Setup-DTS-HD Master Audio Sound Check
|Year Of Production||2012|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Sid Bennett|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (2304Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Discover a world lost for millions of years... Get ready to fear extinction.
Oh no you say. Not another "point of view" horror movie where the "found" footage forms the basis of the narrative? The Dinosaur Project is a low budget independent film which follows the path set by Blair Witch and Cloverfield, amongst others, in presenting the fate of an expedition to the Congo which is tasked to find evidence of a mythical creature called Mokele Mbembe. This creature seems strikingly similar to a dinosaur or, say, the Loch Ness monster. Needless to say the average viewer would have a fair idea on what is going to happen, so the question is not so much what will happen, but whether the portrayal is convincing – or not.
Beginning with a teaser clip and the now formulaic text on black screen device telling us that this is "found" footage of an ill-fated expedition blah blah blah, The Dinosaur Project stumbles into the character introductions by way of interviews and home video recordings. Marchant (Richard Dillane) is leader of the Cryptozoological Society who specialise in investigating mythological creatures and sightings. His son Luke (Matt Kane) plays the role of rebellious teenager who wants to emulate his father but feels excluded and is rebuffed by dad in his desire to join the expedition. Father and son have a fractious relationship and it is plain that Luke wants to gain the respect of his gruff and aloof father. Despite being explicitly forbidden from joining the group Luke does his best stowaway routine and manages to get on board the one way trip to the Congo. Other members of the team include the standard scantily dressed young female Dr. Liz Draper (Natasha Loring), local guide Amara (Abena Ayivor), and the rather more mysterious Charlie Rutherford (Peter Brook). It is clear that Rutherford has a chip on his shoulder but it remains to be seen where this will head. Also on the team are technical support and dinosaur fodder Dave (Stephen Jennings) and Pete (Andre Weideman) who have little to contribute apart from some mildly amusing banter and hammy acting.
Interspersed with the "home" video footage are traditional vistas and scenery which is a bit inconsistent if you bother to think about it. How does this fit into the "found" footage concept? Presumably writer and director Sid Bennett did not think this important – and maybe he's right. I suspect however that it is more likely lazy concept creation. Fortunately in a film about dinosaurs the actual dinosaurs themselves are rendered pretty well. Some of the CGI is dodgy, but overall it is quite good for a low budget film. When the dinosaur scales start flying there is enough convincing mayhem to satisfy expectations, although I didn't see the point of having a "friendly" dinosaur on board. If the little critter had a pouch you could call it "Skippy". Maybe that inclusion is a nod to the younger audience members who perhaps shouldn't be watching in the first place. The final twists involving Amara and Charlie were spotted well in advance, so there was no real surprises there, although the ending remained a bit ambiguous. Surely the producers didn't envisage Dinosaur Project 2 being a possibility? Well maybe they were hoping so.
The Dinosaur Project is far from being a flop and has some redeeming qualities. For one - it is short, and the dinosaurs themselves were quite good. It will take more than that however to warrant another outing unless bigger budgets and a more inspiring vision is on the table.
The video is presented in MPEG-4 AVC high definition 1080p 2.35:1 widescreen. For a low budget film supposedly using home video equipment the quality and detail is surprisingly good. The jungle scenes look lush and realistic although the saturation is kept back a little to presumably make the atmosphere slightly more cool and sinister. When dinosaurs attack at night the shadow detail is good and everything is easy to see. White levels in daytime scenes are also appropriate with contrast and brightness not compromising image depth. Red is not used often so when we do see some blood it has an immediate impact. Skin tones are accurate and close up detail is very good without being exceptional. On the down side there were instances of slight colour gradation issues in dimly lit scenes which resulted in minor banding effects. In summary there were no significant video artefacts.
A DTS Master Audio 5.1 audio track encoded at around 2,500 Kb/s is the only offering. Due to the "point of view" premise there is little in the way of surround activity apart from helicopter scenes and some creature effects. The helicopter crash is the only real example of effective LFE use. The dialogue is always easy to understand and there are no issues with synchronisation. This track is nothing to get excited about but it does do the job effectively enough.
|Surround Channel Use|
Static menu with audio.
Occurring before the main menu commences are
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The Dinosaur Project Blu-ray has not been released in the U.S. at time of review, however the region B UK disc includes a "making of" featurette Evolution of The Dinosaur Project and theatrical trailer. There is also an additional 2.0 LPCM sound track. If you are interested in the extra feature then an import copy is required.
The Dinosaur Project succeeds up to a point but ultimately fails to deliver anything new in plot or delivery. The "POV" style is becoming a cliché and the jerky camera work rapidly becomes tiring and annoying. On the credit side the CGI dinosaurs are largely well done and the acting is serviceable enough. The tension is there but not really intense enough to justify billing as a "horror" film. The plot twist at the end also seems a little contrived and not really necessary. Maybe the writer was running out of ideas? If this was a presentation for TV then you'd be quite happy with the results. To justify a theatrical release however you really want a bit more than what is delivered here.
The video quality very good.
The audio quality is good.
The extras are virtually non-existent.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910 and Panasonic BD-35, using HDMI output|
|Display||Panasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Amplification||denon AVR-4311 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp|
|Speakers||B&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub, Definitive Technology Supercube II Sub|