Of all the millions of species that have gone extinct since life first appeared on planet Earth, dinosaurs are the ones that tend to hold the most fascination for us. Sure, it's interesting to learn about wooly mammoths and saber-tooth tigers and dodos, and it would be pretty cool to meet them someday in real life, but they simply don't inspire the same kind of awe that dinosaurs do. Just look at what an amazing experience it is to observe the mere preserved bones of these terrible lizards; can you imagine what it would be like to see them in the flesh?
Film makers can imagine it, and they've done so in a variety of ways. From goofy, to friendly, to downright bloodthirsty, they've created all sorts of dinosaur characters in movies that we know and love. And you know what? No one, as far as we know (if you discount the Nessie-sighters and some deep-sea divers) knows what dinosaurs were really like, so in effect, we can't pass any sort of judgment on these representations. Read on to indulge your dinosaur love.
The Land Before Time
Little Foot! Petri! Sarah! Ducky! Spike! We cheered as these brave dinosaurs went on their quest to find the Great Valley, reunite with their families, and stave off extinction for as long as they could.
Okay, so it's a good bet that these ancient lizards didn't actually speak English, especially seeing as how the landmasses that form today's countries didn't even exist in their same form back then. And, you know, people didn't exist back then. But we think that the movie gives some great portrayals of what things like dinosaur battles could have been like. The dinosaurs in this movie are clearly anthropomorphic, but at the same time, they do seem to still have a pretty good connection to their animal natures.
Land of the Lost
It's a good chance that we'll never get to see live dinosaurs in our lifetime, but that doesn't stop moviemakers from playing with the space-time continuum so that humans and dinosaurs could coexist to fulfill some sort of deep-rooted fantasy. Actually, we don't know whose fantasy this is, because having to run away from being eaten by frickin' DINOSAURS doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun to us! Especially since, from what we've learned in science class, these creatures don't have particularly huge brains. "Eat" seems to be about the only thing that's going on in there.
The funniest part is that filmmakers aren't content to just have people watch in wonder. No, it's necessary for the humans to go and do something like taunt Mr. Tyrannosaurus Rex. We generally don't like to make fun of things that can kill us quite so easily, and if it was us, we think we'd be a little more careful.
This movie didn't just give us a look into what the world might be like if dinosaurs existed; it actually made all of us believe that maybe, just maybe, our dreams of seeing dinosaurs in real life could come true. We watched with breathless excitement as the scientists extracted dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes trapped in amber, and cheered when the dinosaurs became able to mate, even if it meant ultimate failure for the experiment and lots of gruesome dinosaur battles.
Steven Spielberg is a master of special effects, and we love that he went to great lengths to make this movie visually beautiful. We know that many people are huge fans of CGI, but we prefer the old-school animatronics that were used to make the robot dinosaurs you see in many of the scenes. And no one will ever forget what a huge pile of poop a dinosaur can leave behind!
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, based on those adorable little fighting geniuses from Return of the Jedi, was made for television and might have been missed by many people. And if you missed it, you definitely missed out: the movie provided a fascinating look at both the Ewok culture and some of the flora and fauna to be found in their habitat.
Among the many interesting creatures that the characters come across are these strange, dinosaur-like beasts of burden called blurrgs. Now, we know that dinosaurs have been used in this manner in other films (see The Flintstones, below, for example), but we're surprised that the villains in The Battle for Endor chose the ones with all of the teeth as their steeds. There's a reason that people usually choose plant-eaters for tasks like that. The meat-eaters are usually reserved for, well, eating people, and we're surprised at how docile they are in this scene given their obvious physical advantages.
Another movie about anthropomorphic dinosaurs making a great journey! Hmm, we're noticing a theme here, and we're a little surprised that the makers of Dinosaur managed to get away with it given the zillion sequels to The Land Before Time. Then again, the animation is super snazzy, so we suppose they get points for that.
What is it with these movies and always having to kill off the good guys? You rarely ever see this except for in dinosaur movies, and we're not quite sure why that is. Maybe for the morbid reason that everyone knows all of the dinosaurs died eventually, so who cares if a few of them don't make it to the grand finale?
Not to mention that there's always the one brave, young dinosaur that is willing to go against what his elders and everyone else thinks is right, and in doing so always ends up validating himself and proving that everyone else with knowledge and experience is a stupid-head. We guess maybe it's another "dinosaurs are dumb" thing, but we wonder why this is specifically the model of social structures in dinosaur herds. Maybe it's something to do with their funny faces.
Is Godzilla really a dinosaur? The world may never know. However, seeing as how he's a Japanese creation, and how he's obviously not a dragon (Japanese dragons are very different from Western style ones), we're going to go with yes.
The interesting part about this portrayal is taking the dinosaur out of anything that could remotely be considered his natural habitat, and placing him smack in the middle of major metropolitan areas. Delightful destruction ensues, to the point where we wonder what this creature has against skyscrapers. Seriously, this guy's (or girl's, depending on what version you watch) got a serious grudge. Most wild animals, unless they're drunken elephants, don't simply smash things for the sake of smashing them. That doesn't stop us from thoroughly enjoying the chaos, however.
When the Flintstone family and friends made their transition to the big screen in this live-action movie, they didn't leave their dinosaur pals behind. This is a great film for exploring how dinosaurs and humans could have worked in harmony, had they coexisted during the same period of history. The dinosaurs in this movie are highly intelligent, as trainable as dogs, and sometimes almost human in their interactions. Especially the Flintstone family pet, Dino.
Although, we have to say after watching this movie that we're not sure if we'd like to have a dinosaur as a pet. Sure, it sounds great at first, but even the biggest dog running at full speed can only do so much damage. Now multiply that by about ten times, and after the resulting destruction you've got some serious issues with the landlord or homeowner's association. Not to even mention what it must be like when he leaves a mess on the rug!