There is no denying that Dino Time is a highly entertaining children’s animation. Predictable, perhaps, for those taking their offspring, but this does have a certain something that will ensure parents don’t drift into a world of list making and seat shuffling.
The story follows Ernie (Pamela Adlon), a rebellious kid who accidentally ends up in a time machine travelling back 65 million years to a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Like all siblings, younger sister Julia (Tara Strong) does anything to get Ernie into trouble. Except by doing so, she ends up trapped beside him in a primeval universe with nothing but the flash of her mobile camera to ward off evil creatures.
Obviously if you are a young boy and indeed into prehistoric monsters, this would initially be a dream come true. Right up until realisation sets in that dinosaurs are actually quite terrifying. Deciding to break the fourth wall and have lead character Ernie direct the viewer is a clever technique that is sure to capture the attention of young children. Though a filmed at a boyish audience, the main T-Rex Tyra (Melanie Griffith) plays on themes of maternalism, while she’s kitted out with hot pink skin and luscious eyelashes. Tyra’s protective instinct over these children who happened to land in her nest is touching, yet the pedant in us can’t help but see the stupidity of the creature who has mistaken her baby T-Rex for three very different looking, human children.
Sadly, Dino Time isn’t anything we haven’t seen before and it’s near impossible not to see the same formulaic design that Disney so often practice. We have the young cub (Ernie) venturing far out against his parent’s wishes and ultimately ending up facing some pretty mean looking dinosaurs (instead of hyenas). There’s also little new by way of CGI and design, as the animation director’s Yoon-suk Choi and John Kafka’s work reflects the lack of depth that the narrative embodies.
Dino Time simply isn’t as accomplished as others in its genre, without the ability to fully speak to the older members of the crowd. That being said, when striped back to its bare dinosaur bones – Dino Time is harmless family fun. Perhaps not the most original narrative or superior animation we have ever witnessed, but one that the desired, target audience are sure to enjoy.