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The basic plot: Four dinosaurs (made more intelligent by a kindly
are given the chance to delight children by coming into the future to live
with Dr. Bleeb at the Museum of Natural History.
Why it works: Kids love dinosaurs (especially big cuddly talking ones that sound like John Goodman), kindly scientists, time travel, and (when given the chance) Natural History.
The animation is good quality, the basic premise is fun, the music (with a surprise by Thomas Dolby) is good and well placed (no one bursting into an annoying song every 30 seconds) and the voice talents are wonderful, featuring well known actors such as Martin Short and Rhea Perlman, voices we know from elsewhere--Walter Cronkite and Julia Child, and veteran Voicers Yeardley Smith (the unsinkable Lisa Simpson) and the remarkable Charles Fleischer (Roger Rabbit).
Some characters needed a little more character...a little more explanation (such as Professor Screweyes--who went mad and turned evil because he lost his eye--??). But hey, this is a kids' movie, right? Let it slide.
Will kids' like it? Absolutely. And the adults? Relax and have a good time, and try not to think too much.
When I was a kid, I loved dinosaurs. Jurrasic Park, The Land Before
Time, (the original, not the crappy umpteen sequels), and We're Back
especially were my favorite movies.
Now when I look at it again, I see that the movie's plot made no sense, the characters were stereotypical, and that it was sappy at the end.
But as a kid, I didn't care. What could be cooler than a singing tyrannosaurus(with the exception of Barney)? I didn't care if the plot made no sense to an adult because it made perfect sense to me. I never wondered why Rex didn't know what lunch was but instantly knew the tune of "Row your boat". I didn't see the average example of "unhappy" children and a villain that was one sided and overly symbolic. I saw some cool kids and a crazy scary guy with a screw for an eyeball that somehow had magical powers.
Because that's what this movie was and is: a children's movie. And somehow in all the critic reviews and hype and over analyzation of movies in general, I forgot what it was like to watch a movie as a kid and to just enjoy it regardless of plot and characters.
I get the same feeling from watching old Saturday morning cartoons. They were stupid, and the plots were ridiculous, but I loved them. Bring on the genetic mutants who know kung-fu and fight crime! Throw in a few aliens and you've got a good thing to eat sugary cereal to! Anyway, I guess the real reason I wrote this review was to perhaps remind people to simplify their lives from time to time, and quit over-analyzing. You enjoy more that way.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
How ironic it is that in 1993, two dinosaur pictures courtesy of Steven
Spielberg would hit the theaters. One of them was a runaway box-office
hit, the live-action spectacular JURASSIC PARK; the other was WE'RE
BACK! A DINOSAUR'S STORY, which came and went without much fanfare. An
animated film from Spielberg's London-based Amblimation Studios (AN
American TAIL: FIEVEL GOES WEST and the underrated BALTO), WE'RE BACK
has been dubbed as a sort of "Jurassic Park, Jr." Actually, that might
be a bit inaccurate, for while there is one not so subtle reference to
the Spielberg monster hit (a marquee theater advertising the movie),
this film has none of the visceral, nail-biting scares of JURASSIC
PARK. As it is a kid's movie, one shouldn't expect too much.
Even so, this "dinosaur's story" is a bit of a curious creation. Based on a children's book by author Hudson Talbott, the movie involves a quartet of prehistoric giants who are taken aboard the spaceship of an elderly time-traveler, Captain NewEyes. The foursome is treated to some sort of cereal that transforms them from vicious but dumb monsters into talking creatures with human qualities (think Barney and his friends). Before long, the four dinosaurs--with the names of Rex, Elsa, Dweeb, and Woog--are whisked to modern day New York City where they meet two children: tough-talking (but secretly soft-hearted) Louie and a neglected cutie named Cecilia, both of who are running away from home. Together with their new pals, the dinosaurs crash the Thanksgiving Parade (which involves a very silly song-and-dance number), escape the police, and get sidetracked by the evil owner of a fright-show circus (NewEyes' brother ScrewEyes)... all before arriving at their destination, the Museum of Natural History, where the dinosaurs are to become real-life talking exhibits for many children.
The plot, such as it is, is pretty wishy-washy, and the routine execution barely elevates WE'RE BACK above anything but your typical, average kids animated fare. The animation itself is mostly serviceable and includes some interesting computer-generated effects, but it's not up to Disney quality... and at times I felt that there were some frames stolen from a more superior animated film about dinosaurs, Don Bluth's THE LAND BEFORE TIME. John Patrick Shanley's screenplay has few lines to appeal to older viewers, much less a plethora of characters one are likely to remember. The four dinosaurs, for instance, are your typical talking animals that, while cuddly and likable, never develop into fully realized personalities, and their supporting co-stars don't get much to do either.
Probably the only character who does show any depth is Louie, the freckle-faced street kid. When we first meet Louie he acts pretty fresh and self-centered; but as the movie develops, his more soft qualities shine through, whether he saves Rex from drowning or befriending Cecilia to cheer her up. He even admits, in a tearful sequence, how he uses his tough demeanor to hide his own fear. If anything, it's really Louie who steals the movie and makes it worthwhile. His relationship with Cecilia (who is less well-defined than Louie, but that's irrelevant) although more romantic than it has to be, is very nicely handled and is the highest point of the film. (The moments where Cecilia flirts with Louie are quite funny.) Equally pleasing is the characterization of Professor ScrewEyes, the villain of the piece. He only shows up in the second half of the picture, but commands his screen-time with devious manipulation and pure nastiness. In addition, his demeanor of tapping into people's nightmares and a hypnotic stare render him a menace to be feared. ScrewEyes may be a bizarre baddie, but he works all the same.
That leads to another problem of WE'RE BACK. The first half is lighthearted (and outrageously unbelievable) silliness, but midway through the picture becomes dark--particularly the scenes involving ScrewEyes' fright-show circus, which are executed in a way that may be too intense for small fry. This unbalanced shift in tone calls the film's target audience into question. Kids in the 5-12 age group should be fine, but older viewers expecting more may find it to be too silly and uninspired. And the very young, too, could be traumatized by the aforementioned scary scenes.
And yet, in spite of saying all this, there is something rather likable about WE'RE BACK--A DINOSAUR'S STORY. Its plot is outrageous, sure, and the movie is little more than just a cute, forgettable time-passer. But it has its heart in the right place, and there are some tender moments--one sequence, in which Rex and company make the ultimate sacrifice to save Louie and Cecilia from eternal life as chimps in ScrewEyes' circus, is genuinely moving, especially when Rex's gentle touch reverts the kids to normal. This is done in a very subtle, effective way that stayed with me for a long while. The voice cast includes some solid performances, too, notably John Goodman as the gruff yet gentle Rex, Walter Cronkite as Captain NewEyes (and yes, he says his trademark "that's the way it is" toward the end), and Martin Short in a cameo as a comic clown. The standouts are Joey Shea, who sizzles with attitude and likability as Louie, and Kenneth Mars (Triton in THE LITTLE MERMAID and Grandpa Longneck in the LAND BEFORE TIME sequels), chewing the scenery as the fearsome ScrewEyes. Yeardley Smith's Cecilia is the one voice I take issue with--she doesn't exactly sound like a young girl, and most of the other voices--Jay Leno, Rhea Perlman, Charles Fleischer, and Julia Child--all seem to be just in the movie for the sake of, well, being there. The musical score by James Horner is beautiful, although at times it does sound like a rehash of many of his other scores (a trait not uncommon with most of the composer's work, it seems).
In short, WE'RE BACK is passable fare as a family animated film; it's cute and funny, but that's about it.
I do try not to take IMDb ratings to heart, but I was flabbergasted when I saw the 5.4 rating to one of my childhood favourites. It doesn't wow me as much at 17, but as a family film this is a sweet and well meaning movie. Kids will definitely love it and won't mind the flaws, and the adults can guess the actor behind each character and admire the subliminal messaging of the film. None of the film was preachy in any way, in fact it has a great message that added to its sweetness. I will admit though that the story is on the thin side, and some scenes like Screweyes's death(which still freaks me out) may be a tad on the scary side. But the animation is well above average with nice colours and good character animation. The music by James Horner is very beautiful, and the song featured is memorable, catchy and amusing. I really liked the characters, Louie is probably the most in-depth of them all, but the dinosaurs were at least engaging. Martin Short's clown was both hilarious and emphatic, the part when he tells Screweyes "I quit!" had me in stitches. My favourite is Screweyes though, an effective villain who is crafty and I suppose intelligent. If anything though, I wish the film kept in the part when he explains how he lost his eye and why he is scared of crows because that way he could've been more developed in terms of depth. The script, while not Oscar-worthy, has its funny and heart-warming parts, and should keep kids and adults entertained. The voice acting for me was what made the movie. John Goodman, Martin Short, Rhea Perlman, Felicity Kendall and Yeardley Smith all gave solid performances, but special mention has to go to Kenneth Mars for he was absolutely superb as Screweyes and almost unrecognisable. All in all, this is a good movie. I don't get the rating, honestly I don't. Sure this film isn't perfect, and it is not as good as a dinosaur movie such as Land Before Time, but it is good fun. 7.5/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With the family friendly dinosaurs and story, it is hard to not see the
connection between this film and the classic film, "The Land Before
Time". The difference between the two is that this film has no good
qualities, the characters are stupid and boring, and the premise that
lacks all logic--and I'm not talking about the cereal that makes the
dinosaurs smart, the fact that there is time travel, or the fact that
there is a circus dedicated to scaring people.
The film opens up with a bird who is being picked on by his siblings and decides to leave the nest. As he flies away, he is picked up by Rex, a Tyrannosaurus Rex that was one of four dinosaurs brought from the past to the present. The bird tells Rex his plans to join the circus, leaving Rex to tell the bird the story of a boy he knew who joined the circus.
We flashback to when Rex was a monster and is given the cereal that makes him smart. With that, he is brought aboard a space ship where he meets a Triceratops, a Pterodactyl, and a Parasaurolophus, three other dinosaurs who have been given the cereal and become smart. They learn that Professor New Eyes has chosen them to go to the future so they can make children's wishes come true.
With this, the film starts it decline. The first thing to go in the movie are the logistics. There are herbivores eating hot dogs and when we get to New York, it just gets worse. The dinosaurs are in a parade and to show the children that they are real, Rex breaks into song and dance, singing one of the worst and most awkward songs I have ever heard. So, instead of this making everyone believe that they are fake, suddenly everyone realizes they are real and run away. What...? Later on, Professor New Eye's brother, Professor Screweyes, is eaten by his crows somehow. Now, I know in films you need to push your imagination but the film should still be logical in its own universe.
Next, every character in this film is either stupid, unlikable, or both. In fact, the only character who is even remotely likable is the main antagonist, Dr. Screweyes. This is bad as the writers have spent tons of time basically throwing at the audience that you should like the dinosaurs and the kids and hate Screweyes and the complete opposite sort of happens.
The film has two elements to it, dumb and awkward. Everything dealing with Cecilia is awkward, complete with terrible acting (a real shame as she is played by Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson)). Then, everything else is dumb from the characters, to the premise, to the story, to the minor elements of the story.
This family film is awful. Completely awful. Boring characters, a dumb story and premise, character motivations that are cliché, awkward dialog, and it forces the audience to have to throw away all logic to enjoy this film. That is, to me, one of the worst things a film can do and I find it no surprise I find the film to be this bad.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Did you ever see the movie Jurassic Park? that's right that action
packed movie by Steven Spielberg, the movie that gave us some
impressive CGI and really awesome dinosaurs. But much like the Ying and
the Yang for every good movie that existed there's always going to be a
bad one, this one, Were Back! A terribly stupid Dinosaur Story!
I mean why? why would Spielberg make a movie that's the opposite to a really good movie? In fact why would big named actors like John Goodman, Jay Leno, Martian Short, and Kenneth Mars would sign on to something this ambitious? Well here's are the problems of this movie:
The story looks like a something a second grader would write for his class, for example; this scientist named Twoeyes and his alien assistance gather some fierce and realistic dinosaurs and feed them some Brain Grain, cereal that makes them smarter and unrealistic and cartoony you see Twoeyes want to use the dinosaurs to for fill kids wishes that wish to seeing real Dinosaurs (yeah I beat they won't wish for some better, no stopping war, no stopping terrorism, no stoping racism, no peace around the world, JUST HARMLESS DINOSAURS!).
The song that John Goodman's character sings is AWFUL, and can't you believe that James Horner, the guy who did the score to Titanic, has written this song?!?
Do you think that some of the s scary moments are to scary for kids even a morbid death scene towards the end, why is this film even gotten a G-rating? Even the death scene in Cars 2 looks more G-rated than this morbid and creepy death scene, they only show it off screen!
what is up with the expression, "Let no bad happen!".
in conclusion, if your interested to view a bad, I would pick seeing this one once.
I wouldn't call "We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story" simply a kiddie
version of "Jurassic Park". I found it more interesting than that. Like
the former, it calls into question the security of bringing beings from
one era into ours. But it really opens my eyes when I see who provided
the voices: John Goodman, Rhea Perlman, Jay Leno, Walter Cronkite,
Julia Child, Kenneth Mars, Yeardley Smith, Martin Short and Larry King.
To paraphrase that: a given actor, the "Cheers" woman, the "Tonight
Show" host, the Most Trusted Name In News, a famous chef, the "Young
Frankenstein" police chief, Lisa Simpson, one of the Three Amigos and
the CNN guy.
But I guess that I shouldn't focus only on the cast. I thought that this movie had something for both children (purely fun) and adults (natural history). True, it's escapism, but the perceptive kind. I would actually say that John Goodman doing Rex's voice here is sort of a precursor to his voice work in "Monsters Inc". Worth seeing.
this was a personal favorite of mine when i was young, it had everything that was great with 90's kids movies... lovable dinosaurs, cute kids, an eccentric villain, and a few great songs (and not the typical little mermaid/beauty and the beast type songs, but ones that are atually entertaining)! i ran into this movie again recently and i still love it as much as ever! i recommend that everyone of every age should see this movie, and i definitely think that it should be introduced to the younger generations! sorry not the most informative, i'm in kinda a rush... just please, trust me. all who go against this movie are killing their inner child!
This quite simply is a kids Jurassic Park. The jolting scares are gone, the computer/robot/live action is gone, and the story is whittled down to cartoon caliber. In this aspect the movie is OK. It is enjoyable for kids and watchable for adults. Voice talents include people of Simpsons, Cheers, and talkshow fame. The story-line is ok too (of fairy-tale/bed-time story calibre). The animation is nothing spectacular and is not on the Disney level, but that is not this movie's goal. The goal is to bring the world of Jurassic Park and of Dinosaurs to a young audience in a well made fashion. In this case "We're Back a Dinosaur Story" succeeds where other movies; which tried to jump on the Jurassic Pack media bandwagon, like the Carnosaur (goar) series, failed.
I just can't see anyone over five truly enjoying Phil Nibbelink and
Simon Wells' We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story simply on its own terms.
It's a children's movie that works for nobody but little, little
children. Even when they're five, by showing them this movie you could
be pushing it. I've stood by my realization and claim that one of the
contributing factors to a child's growth, development, and success is
their imagination and experience to things other than what they're used
to. What you find in this film could easily be substituted by a more
ideal episode of PBS's Dragon Tales.
The selling point (which also serves as the most surprising name on the project) is executive producer Steven Spielberg, who of course made the other dinosaur movie released in 1993 that deserves no introduction. It's baffling to the mind to think that Spielberg, whose dinosaur epic is now the quintessential motion picture about the ferocious beasts, would want his name stamped all over a kiddie flick with minimal heart and imagination. A better investment would've been to bet on Disney, whose pictures were sweeping up money at the box office like disposed trash. Hell, if he would've waited a few years, Pixar would've been on its way. And then Dreamworks.
But what's done is done, and now we have a mediocre children's film on our hands, bearing the name of one of cinema's finest men. Our story revolves around an orange Tyrannosaurus Rex named Rex (voiced by John Goodman) and his dinosaur friends, who run into Louie (Joe Shea) when they are transported in time to present day New York City. Louie is a young boy, who is running away from home to join the circus and feels lonely and helpless in the world as both his parents have neglected him. He then meets Cecilia (voiced by Yeardley Smith - who voices Lisa Simpson on The Simpsons - explaining why her voice sounds like a blend of Lisa's and Cindy Brady's), another neglected soul, leaving Louie with a source of companionship and empathy. That's all well and good, until an evil circus owner (Martin Short) reveals his plans to kidnap the kids, leaving the dinosaurs as their only source of rescue.
The plot alone makes this a very strange movie. Certainly not frightening to its target audience, but weird it definitely is, consistently giving us goofy situations, a laughable villain, and a repetitive strain of events before the ends credits roll. There's also a rather bleak color drawing style to the film that had me craving the likes of that polished, fluent Disney style. Certain images (like the character's themselves) seem to be over-colored, the color-palette itself is never consistent, and the cityscapes seem as lifeless as the dinosaurs themselves.
And the final point of criticism is the length of the picture, further cementing the fact that We're Back! is as unsubstantial as it is. It credits itself at seventy-two minutes, when in reality, minus the credits (which are slowed down meticulously to try and pass for feature length) it's roughly sixty-five minutes, even making this an inconceivable TV special. The fact that thousands of parents had to nestle in their theater seats for a drab sixty-five minute affair makes me upset in ways just as inconceivable.
We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story isn't detrimental to the intelligence of your children the way some franchise are, put it's not particularly vital either. It's a decidedly random film, featuring one modestly-catchy but forgettable song, repetitive events, lame characters, an archetypal villain, and blatantly obvious voice-acting. At least hearing Walter Cronkite will give the parents something to be entertained by.
Voiced by: John Goodman, Julia Child, Jay Leno, Martin Short, Walter Cronkite, Joey Shea, and Yeardley Smith. Directed by: Phil Nibbelink and Simon Wells.
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