Friday, December 20, 2013
Image courtesy HDwallpapers.in.
Walking With Dinosaurs 3D has been released. As is probably well-known to anyone reading this post, the production company, in a panic to comfort viewers used to the tropes of modern big-budget children's entertainment, tragically decided to add dialogue, pop music cues, and puerile humor to the film. And I had such high hopes in May.
Reviews are uniformly unkind. "If you could turn off the soundtrack you’d have a fascinating silent film featuring photo-realistic prehistoric beasts. But just you try ignoring what sounds like Smurfs 2 meets Alvin and the Chipmunks," writes Chris Knight for the National Post (though he also refers to Edmontosaurus as a carnivore, LOLWUT). As of this writing, the film has a 25% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, though 61% of ~5,200 users on the site like it, so who knows. Maybe the gamble will pay off and in six years we'll be seeing the third movie in the series rolling out. Here's my idea: in a Triassic twist on Roxanne, a dim-witted Plateosaurus tries to win the heart of his crush with the help of a wacky Liliensternus. Take that one, 20th Century Fox. The next one costs you.
We may or may not review the movie here (there has been mention of Marc and Niroot possibly seeing it together), but seeing yet another big animated dinosaur project get muddled by terrible studio decisions has pretty well convinced me that big studios will never make the dinosaur movie I want to see. Which, for the record, would be something that feels like a feature-length version of the first lagoon shot from Jurassic Park. A narrative arc would be fine. It's been done before, and well - think The Bear. What I want is an immersive, I-just-time-travelled-to-the-Mesozoic feel, with a great score and as little anthropomorphism as possible. There's no way that film gets made anytime soon.
There's hope, though. Who knows what will be possible as the technology gets cheaper and dinosaur fanatics get more motivated to make something on their own? Or perhaps expecting a feature film is the wrong way to look at it. Maybe the dream of an immersive exploration of prehistory is better left to game designers, like the folks behind Saurian (also, like it at FB and follow on Twitter). They'll reportedly be crowdfunding the project as it develops, and I think that the work-in-progress pieces of the process they've shown give some hope that it will be a worthy project to back.
We can spit and curse at huge studios all we want, but they'll never really care about what a small group of passionate paleontology fanatics think. There's no incentive. I'm tired of chasing the wrong dream.