Animated prehistoric creatures convey civilised message

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 July, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 July, 2000, 12:00am

The latest Disney animation Dinosaur tells a compelling story of a group of prehistoric creatures fighting for survival.

And the moral the talking dinosaurs convey is ironically a highly civilised notion: survival depends on unity and the strength of brotherhood.

The biggest attraction of this US$200 million (HK$1.5 billion) Hollywood summer blockbuster is the incredibly real-looking animated dinosaurs and primates and breathtaking computer-enhanced backgrounds. Scenes are taken from the wildest corners of the world including Venezuela and South Pacific islands.

The documentary quality of the animations really brings the imaginary creatures to life.

The special effects are a great advancement from the 1993 Jurassic Park and its use of mechanical models.

The opening scene travels back over 135 million years to the Cretaceous Period and a peaceful green habitat populated by different kinds of dinosaurs, such as herbivorous iguanodons.

An iguanodon egg accidentally drops on to an island inhabited by lemurs. A lemur family adopts the newly hatched cuddly baby and names it Aladar who grows up without ever seeing its fellow iguanodons.

Surviving a meteorite shower which destroys their habitat, brave Aladar takes his adopted family to join a mixed herd of dinosaurs led by brutal iguanodon Kron to search for a new home. Aladar protects the weak and old from attack by the vicious carnivorous velociraptors and carnosaurs which keep tailing the herd. But he infuriates Kron by opposing Kron's philosophy of survival of the fittest and leaving the slow ones behind for the predators.

Their different ways gradually lead to a fight during which Aladar beat Kron and convinces the herd to follow him to a sanctuary he has found.

The film reflects our sense of superiority as human beings, represented by our primate ancestors, the lemurs which are 'a couple of species higher' than dinosaurs.

They raise and civilise a member of the 'cold-blooded flesh eating monsters' who in turn saves and civilises his own species.

On the whole, Dinosaur is good entertainment with some spectacular but cruel fighting scenes; a good depiction of touching friendships; familial and romantic love; and sad death scenes.

For those who find the highly humanised dinosaurs too childish may prefer to watch the documentary-like TV series Walking With Dinosaurs.

But parents should remind their children that the whole world of the dinosaurs is largely fictional, no matter how real it seems with the help of movie- makers' magic and academics.

Graphic: F22GLO

Graphic: YPFRGLO