The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Walking with Dinosaurs 3D

Walking with Dinosaurs 3D is a notable Blu-Ray for a very unusual reason: it offers a correction to the theatrical version of the film. There are two versions included on the disc. After watching the theatrical cut, I had a specific problem it. Then I perused the bonus features and found an alternate cut that completely obliterates that problem. Including that other cut gives a new life to the movie, while still preserving the version that was released to theaters.

This is the story of Patchi (voiced by Justin Long), a Pachyrhinosaurus who follows his herd as it migrates south, avoiding predators all the way. He also falls for a female Pachyrhinosaurus named Jupiter (Tiya Sircar), has a rivalry with his brother Scowler (Skyler Stone), and learns a great deal about how to survive. The story is threadbare, but there are admirable attempts to teach kids a few things about dinosaurs, from their names, to what they ate, to what their migration patterns were like.

Walking with Dinosaurs 3D has gorgeous, meticulously detailed CGI. Every scale on every dinosaur is crisply rendered, and the environments are photorealistic. There are some fun uses of 3D, too. Dinosaurs thrust their tusks, beaks, and sometimes butts right into the camera. Scenes involving flying creatures convey a sense of height, while the scenes in which different species fight make you feel like their battles are taking place right in front of you. Certain sequences, such as a treacherous walk across and icy pond and a climactic “head butting” competition between two dinos, are really fun and certain to delight children.

The problem is the dialogue. The movie is narrated by Patchi and his bird friend Alex (John Leguizamo). Their narration is insipid, and when the characters speak, their lips don't move, which often makes it hard to tell who's talking. The dialogue is also filled with way too many dumb jokes about poop and puke. Watching Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, I stopped paying attention to the dialogue and found that the movie played much better. You can follow the story without it. In fact, my thought was that it would be substantially better without the talking.

It turns out the Blu-Ray comes with a “Cretaceous Cut” that eliminates all that, as well as a dopey live-action framing device. A little post-viewing research confirms a suspicion I had: the movie was created to be dialogue-free, but studio executives felt audiences wouldn't relate to the characters, so they insisted voices be dubbed in after the fact. That's really noticeable when you watch the theatrical cut. The Cretaceous Cut, on the other hand, scuttles the stuff that detracts from the movie's pleasures, allowing you a purer, more enjoyable viewing experience. Best of all, both cuts are presented in 2D and 3D formats on the Blu-Ray.

Other bonus features on the disc include an “Ultimate Dino Guide,” which provides more educational information about the dinosaur types featured in the film, a “Match the Call” game in which you try to figure out which creature makes which sound, a trivia track, an interactive map, the original theatrical trailer, and a brief promotional feature from Nickelodeon.

Walking with Dinosaurs 3D looks and sounds excellent on Blu-Ray, and the 3D imagery really pops. Kids will probably like either version, but if you plan to watch with them, be sure to do the “Cretaceous Cut,” because it's most certainly the preferable one.

( 1/2 out of four)

Walking with Dinosaurs 3D is rated PG for creature action and peril, and mild rude humor. The running time is 1 hour and 27 minutes.

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