Discs Are Rated
Dinosaur Collector's Edition
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 82 minutes
With the Voices of D.B. Sweeney, Julianna Marguiles,
Samuel E. Wright, Ossie Davis, Alfre Woordard, Della Reese,
Joan Plowright, Max Casella
Directed by Ralph Zondag and Eric Leighton
Retail Price: $39.99
Disc 1: Film Fact Fossil Dig, Commentary with Directors Eric
Leighton, Ralph Zondag, Visual Effects Supervisor Neil
Krepela and Digital Effects Supervisor Neil Eskuri,
Commentary with Producer Pam Marsden and Production Team,
Isolated Sound Effects Track, Dinopedia, DinoSearch game,
Aladar's Adventure game, Sneak Previews, DVD-ROM
Disc 2: Development - Proof Of Concept, Live Action
Test, Early Presentation Reel, Presentation Reel, Visual
Creating the Characters - Designing The Dinosaurs, Building
The Lemurs, Building The Dinosaurs, Character Design, Unued
Character Concepts, Preliminary Lemur Designs
The Production Process - Creating A Prehistoric World, The
Monster Cloud, The Dino Cam, Story Reel & 3F Workbook,
Music And Sound - Music, Sound Design, Audio Mix
Six Abandoned Sequences
Publicity - Three Trailers, Four TV Spots, Posters
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby
Digital 5.1, English DTS 5.1, English TheaterVision, English
Subtitles, Chapter Search (27 Chapters), Two-Disc Set, THX
Over the past few decades of film, there have been many
animated movies which have given new life into filmmaking.
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" was the first animated
film ever when it was released in 1937; in 1988 "Who Framed
Roger Rabbit?" blended live action and animation together
seamlessly; "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and it's
extraordinary visual effects with stop motion animation was
pretty phenomenal and "Toy Story" in 1995 was the first
totally computer animated film, right down to the very last
pixel. Now "Dinosaur" is the next film to go down in these
lines. With extremely detailed computer animated characters
against filmed live action backgrounds, "Dinosaur" is an
enjoyable romp and a technical marvel.
"Dinosaur" begins in a fantastic opening sequence, where
we see the various dinosaurs living in their natural
habitat, it's just really amazing to look at. Basically, an
angry carnotaur rips through a nesting ground, leaving a
sole egg untouched and behind. Another dino picks it up, and
a whole sequence of events occur, and it somehow lands in
with a bunch of lemurs. There, the dino in the egg, Aladar
(voiced by D.B. Sweeny), is raised by the lemurs, and as he
grows, everyone is happy with him. Sorta like Tarzan, but
not. But everyone is threatened when a fantastic meteor
shower (and probably the movie's best and most wild
sequence) hits, and all is destroyed. Aladar and the lemurs
go on for a search for a new nesting ground with a bunch of
other dinos, led by the vicious Kron (Wright, who is
excellent). Of course, the normal subplots occur. Aladar
falls in love with Kron's sister, Neera (Marguiles), and
actually has a lot more resourceful ideas for the group, and
is a lot nicer, as he often stays behind to help others.
This of course, leads to conflicts between Aladar and Kron.
Along the way to the nesting grounds, a lot of events occur,
dealing with raptors, carnotaurs and plain survival.
"Dinosaur" is of course, really predictable and nothing
new to audiences. The story is pretty entertaining and is
well balanced, and it moves at a very good pace. Despite
that, I was somewhat disappointed in one aspect of the
movie: dialogue. The dialogue needed to be much stronger,
because words between the characters is never really
intriuging, and it sounds pretty dumbed down for the most
part. The story is good, and does provide many great
moments, but the dialogue and some very slight plot
developments were a let down.
But the dialogue does not really ruin the movie at all,
surprisingly. It's still a lot of fun and interesting to
watch, and you see a movie like this not for the story, but
really for the effects (but the story did interest me
anyway). The characters are likable, and if you're looking
for comic relief in the movie, there is not a lot of it. And
when there is, you'll have to give out a forced laugh
because it's not put out that well, and comes from a swanky
and lovelorn lemur. The voice acting by everyone is really
superior, so that dialogue you hear will sound a little bit
better because the emotion the actors put in give it the
much needed depth.
But of course, the main draw of "Dinosaur" is the
effects. They'll make you go "wow", they are incredible eye
candy and a marvel to look at. The detail on everything is
amazing, and it looks incredibly real. The live action
backgrounds are pretty, so they fit in nicely with the
computer animation. There are also a few amazing sequences
in the film, which will seriously make you wonder how they
pulled it off and take your breath away. Bravo, Disney, the
high budget has paid off with this one (127 million, plus
another 63 for their new animation studio "Secret Labs").
The film did make about 130 million at the box office, but
more will come back to Disney thanks to this video release
and their merchandising.
"Dinosaur" is an achievement in film history. Sure, the
dialogue could have been better, but the project which seems
like to have been in development forever (twelve years, but
real work began six years ago) has surely paid off. The
amount of effort that went into this clearly shows. While
the dialogue could have been better, everything else surely
makes up for it. To catch everything, you may have to watch
it more than once. Parents beware though, there are some
intense sequences which may scare little ones. "Dinosaur" is
dyno-mite (yes a stupid joke, try to stop me! MGWAHAHAHA!).
Once again, Disney uses a direct digital-to-digital
transfer and the result is flawless. This is by far the
sharpest image I've seen on DVD, right up there with other
digital-to-digital transfers such as
Story 2 and
Life. No blemishes, shimmering, dirt, spots, grain,
artifacts, noise or scratches. This anamorphic widescreen
(in 1.85:1) image is breathtaking, with incredible detail.
Colors and hues are dead on, the film looks very vibrant
with some bold and perfect saturation. Shadow and black
level is also deep. You won't see a finer image on DVD.
I saw "Dinosaur" in the theaters and in Dolby Digital,
and while the sound was good, I wasn't too impressed and
wondered how the mix would be for DVD. The theater must have
had their sound screwed up... the Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1
tracks are stellar mixes, if anything. It really doesn't get
much better than this. All the channels on each track are
used to full scale and with plenty of surrounds and bass.
Each track is amazing, but I prefer the DTS because I felt
the sound was a bit sharper and at points, there was more
depth to it. Everything is brought to life on each track.
The thunderous roars, the loud directional effects and James
Newton Howard's beautiful score (I wish there was an
isolated music track) all sound amazing and will really
light up your sound system. Make no mistake, each mix is
incredibly well executed and really dynamic. Also included
are English subtitles, plus TheaterVision. Like the
CE, Disney has provided this feature to the blind and
those with poor eyesight. Basically, a voice describes the
movie to you plus there's the music and dialogue. The voice
gives a ton of detail on what's going on to really help
Using their standard "Collector's Edition" format like on
past Disney CE discs (where everything is broken up in
certain sections by development and element depending what
they are), "Dinosaur" offers a very good amount of
supplementary material that spans two disc. Let's dive right
in, shall we?
Disc 1: The first disc includes things that are on
the standard DVD edition, as well as some new items
exclusive to this set. First off, the Film Facts Fossil
Dig is a series of short featurettes that can be
accessed separately, or, during the film. Similar to "The
Matrix" white rabbit (and the other discs that ripped that
off), a dinosaur skull will appear during the film and you
can click it to be taken to that featurette, and when it's
done, back to the film. The clips include "3D Workbook:
Opening Sequence", "Lemur Live Action Reference", "Live
Action Shoot: The Ritual Tree", "Progression Reel: The
Meteor Strikes", "Dinosaur Models", "Deleted Scene:
Scavengers", "Scene In A Different Light", "Voice
Recording", "Deleted Scene: Eema Gives Up", "Storyboard To
Film Comparison", "Deleted Scene: Neera Saves The
Dinosaurs", "The Cave Miniature Set", "Foley Sound Effects
Demonstration" and the "Alternate Ending". Some are longer
than others, but many of these are really interesting. On a
side note, it seems many people have trouble pausing the
movie at points (myself included), but it seems to be the
case when there's a dino skull in the chapter. It's too bad,
really, since a good amount of the chapters have them. Oh
well, fans of the film and anyone interested in the making
of it will love these.
Aladar's Adventure is an interactive game meant
for the younger ones. It's really just point and click,
nothing special and pretty easy. It has some voice acting
and nice graphics, and good for one play.
DinoSearch is another game that's not too hard,
it's sort of like hide and seek. Using your remote, you
attempt to find dino parts hidden. A few clicks is the game,
pretty much. Still somewhat enjoyable.
The Dinopedia is a narrated guide to real
dinosaurs and their habits, as well as other facts about
them. It uses clips from the film too, so if the kiddies are
researching a project for school, they may want to take a
look at that.
Now we get to the audio features. There's a great
Isolated Sound Effects Track in 5.1 (too bad there's
no isolated score), as well as two audio commentaries.
Commentary One is with Directors Eric Leighton, Ralph
Zondag, Visual Effects Supervisor Neil Krepela and Digital
Effects Supervisor Neil Eskuri. This track took me from
start to finish I loved it. This is a very technical
commentary, but I'm a sucker for these with a movie like
"Dinosaur". There's just so much to talk about and explain,
as well as the whole process behind it. Each person speaks
with much passion, and there aren't any real gaps. They talk
about redoing scenes, original ideas and certain shots and
how they wanted to establish the film. If you're the least
bit interested on how "Dinosaur" was created, listen to this
Commentary Two has Producer Pam Marsden and the
Production Team. Basically, Marsden is a guide and
introduces us to a host of those who worked on the film.
This track is obviously edited, and Marsden's comments are
read with much force (you can tell). Things aren't always so
screen specific, but there are some very good tidbits here.
I really enjoyed James Newton Howard's comments on what he
wanted to create with the music, as well as those with the
design and animation teams. If you want more of a variety in
your commentary to get a really good idea of how many people
and what it took to make this film, listen to this. While I
liked the consistency of the first one more, this is still a
Now, what would a Disney release be without a ton of
Sneak Previews? This DVD has got em... "Snow White
And The Seven Drawfs" (due out October 2001 DVD... the
trailer makes the film seem more dark than family friendly),
Disney's new theme park "Disney's California Adventure",
their summer release "Atlantis" (looks pretty good), a
prequel computer game to "Atlantis", "102 Dalmatians" and
their direct to video release, "Lady and the Tramp II:
Scamp's Adventure" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame II".
Finally, there are a few DVD-ROM features. Some
weblinks and info on dinosaurs. A really solid first disc,
but we have ways to go. So on to disc two...
Disc 2: Everything you need to know about the
making of the film is on this disc. You'll find early
computer animation development, the works. Once again,
Disney really shows you the whole process behind an animated
film. Before I begin, I'd like to comment on the menus. They
are some really nice menus. They don't really represent the
movie, but rather, a computer as if you were working on the
movie. So it's pretty development geared, and let's get the
The first section is Development. The first thing
is a wonderful Proof Of Concept Test that was created
in March 1996. Using storyreels and computer animation, this
was the first presentation to give an idea of what the film
would be like. It's pretty impressive considering how old it
is, and pretty interesting how far the story and film itself
has come. It's in non-anamorphic widescreen.
The really short Live Action Backplate during
October 1996 also shows how far the film has come. Different
characters, but there is a love subplot there like in the
The Early Presentation Reel is from December 1996,
and features concept art, models and some slight animation.
It has some nice music too, and my guess that this was shown
to exhibitors. It doesn't offer much, but it is something.
Another Presentation Reel dates back to October
1998, and is more accurate to the final film with completed
animation and rough animation. It has scenes that are
actually in the final film, so the movie had taken some
definitive shape then. It's a pretty nice reel.
Finally, the Visual Development gives a good nine
pages of art. Enjoy!
Creating The Characters is divided up into two
sections: Dinosaurs and Lemurs. I'll start
with the dinos...
In Dinosaurs, Designing The Dinosaurs is a
featurette that has interviews with animators and some of
the crew, plus has concept art, rough animation and
completed animation. This featurette basically tells you how
the dinos are modeled and animated on the computers. This
lasts a good seven minutes. Check it out.
Building The Dinosaurs has interviews with the
crew and clips from the film, and they show how the
dinosaurs physical features are animated. It gives some good
techniques and pretty insightful. This one lasts eight
minutes. Give this one a spin too.
Finally for Dinosaurs, the Character Design
section has art and models in the following parts: "Aladar
Design", "Aladar Turnaround", "Kron Design", "Kron
Turnaround", "Neera Design" "Neera Turnaround", "Bruton
Design", "Bruton Turnaround", "Baylene Design", "Baylene
Turnaround", "Eema Design", "Eema Turnaround", "Url Design",
"Url Turnaround", "Carnotaurs Design", "Carnotaurs
Turnaround", "Velociraptor Design", "Velociraptor
Turnaround", "The Herd" and "Unused Character Concepts".
Many, many, many pages to browse through and see.
For Lemurs, the featurette Building The
Lemurs has clips from the film, interviews with
production members, concept art and basically tells how the
lemurs were designed, and what was kept in mind to create
them. Also, there are some things on how they were animated.
Basically like the dinosaurs one, so look at this too. This
lasts seven minutes.
Finally, there are Designs and Turnaround
shots for Suri, Zini, Pilo and Yar plus Preliminary
Next section... The Production Process. The first
thing here is Creating A Prehistoric World, a
featurette with interviews from production team members as
they explain how they blended live action backgrounds with
computer animation. They talk about how the movie's film
design evolved plus on filming the live action. Pretty
in-depth and a lot of behind the scenes shots and info, so
look at it. It lasts a solid eight minutes.
The Monster Cloud is another featurette with
interviews and clips on how they created "The Monster Cloud"
sequence (the meteor scene). This featurette shows how it
was created with computers and what skills the team used.
There is also some rough animation. I loved this part in the
movie, and I was very happy to see how it was made. A very
good way to spend four minutes.
The Dino Cam is a sequence with commentary by
Digital Effects Supervisor Neil Eskuri on how a scene is
created using a dinosaur's perspective. It's basically a
progression reel that moves by itself. It's only two
Story Reel & 3D Workbook uses the scene
"Aladar Joins The Herd". It's a production demonstration, so
you can use your angle to see the story reel, 3D Workbook
and final film. There's also a comparison feature for this
scene where you can compare the story reel to the final film
or the 3D Workbook to the final film. It's nothing new
considering nearly every special edition Disney DVD has it,
but it's still a good addition on the animation process.
Finally, Progression Reels are production demos
that move by themselves and have story sketches, 3D
Workbook, modeling, rough animation and a lot more. It's a
bit more in-depth than the ones you control, and these have
commentary with Neil Eskuri. There are three reels: "Opening
Sequence", "Aladar Meets The Misfits" and "Aladar Finds
Water". Since these go more in-depth, I say they are good
for a watch, plus Eskuri offers good comments.
Music And Sound is an excellent section. It's
short and sweet, but I would have liked more. I think the
sound and music is a crucial part to the movie and comes to
represent a good part of it, and this section does it good
justice, though I would have like to see some of Howard's
earlier composure demos as we hear in some of the early
reels and as he mentions on the commentary. Still, I loved
the score and there are some great sounds.
The first featurette is on the Music. It has
interviews, shows Howard at work and gives a lot about the
music. How the music fits, what it represents, it's just a
very well done featurette. It's a good three minutes and
worth your time.
The Sound Design featurette has interviews, clips
and some behind the scenes clips of how the sound effects
were created and how. It's pretty neat and I liked this
featurette a lot, and it is revealed how things were
recorded and when. This one is also three minutes.
Finally, the Audio Mix Demonstration is pretty
neat, where you can mix dialogue, sound effects and music
from the meteor. This is a great interactive experience, as
you see each sound element come together and how each is so
important. It's good to play around with a few times, and it
makes you realize how signifigant sound really is.
Abandoned Scenes feature six deleted sequences:
"The River Crossing", "The Grandparents Perish", "Struggle
For a Resting Place", "Bruton and Lieutenants Attacked",
"Death On The Trail" and "Old Gotoma". Before the scenes, a
page is given for some general background on why they were
cut (Aladar's original name was "Noah"). Some scenes are
storyreels with music and sound, others, with rough
animation. Pretty cool.
Finally, Publicity. Here there are three
Trailers (one is a special convention trailer), four
TV Spots (the Disney CE standard number) and two
pages worth of Posters. Is that it? Nope...
"Dinosaur" also features many easter eggs on the second
disc. I won't give anyway and they are pretty easy to spot
(I thought they were), but Disney buffs will love the hidden
dinosaur related items. So be on the look out for those...
and that's it. Once again, Disney creates a great set to
satisify any fan of the film.
I personally think this movie is just a little bit
underrated, but there's no denying that Disney has once
again made animation history. While I think this movie may
be just a little too intense for the really young ones
(hence the PG rating), kids will enjoy the film and so will
adults, but they'll probably be more amazed at the film's
technical achievements. Disney has once again delivered an
outstanding DVD presentation using their "collector's
edition" format. This is a must have title for any
collection. I'm sure some of you don't care that much for
extras and will go for the standard version, but I highly
suggest you get this two disc set which offers a very
diverse and detailed history on such an involving project.
You'll gain a lot more out of it in the long run.
(4/5, NOT included in
NOT an average)