Walking with Dinosaurs, the new 3D animated film that has no business being in theaters, is like watching children dressed as these prehistoric creatures run around a playground. A steady string of annoyance, jokes that land with a thud, and an affinity for the word “butt” and other cocky elementary school phrases that feel lifted from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the patter between characters here is unfortunately on that level.
The tale of Patchi (Justin Long) and the adventures he and his fellow Pachyrhinosauruses experience on their multiple migrations, Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale’s film is intercut with moments of seriousness that the dinos approach with the same grating immaturity. The reptile renderings themselves are similarly non-noteworthy and presented with the dryness of a classroom presentation. When each new species appears, it’s accompanied by a freeze frame and text identifying its scientific name, translation, and eating habits, read aloud by an unseen child. While the informational is helpful, this approach kills what little flow the film has and still barely encourages retention.
There’s also the film’s lame framing device in which a stereotypical modern teen (Charlie Rowe) spurns his little sister (Angourie Rice) and archeologist uncle (Karl Urban), and gets Patchi’s story told to him by a crow who happens to sounds like John Leguizamo. The apparent message here is that no one, not even a smartphone-and-hoodie-loving punk kid is too cool for dinosaurs, but both its presentation and that of the central story kill that simple truth with excess corniness.
Unless potential young viewers are fond of anything onscreen and are just becoming interested in dinosaurs, give this dud a miss. Otherwise, pop Jurassic Park back in the DVD player and get a far more accomplished dose.
Rated PG for creature action and peril, and mild rude humor.
Walking with Dinosaurs is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.