One of the Stronger Indie CG Films on the Market
I’ve gone on record countless times expressing my disappointment in the practice of taking a foreign CG film, slapping an English dub over the visuals and calling it a new movie. Sadly it happens far more often than most people realize; but they certainly discover why it’s so unsuccessful the moment they sit their kids in front of the screen with the DVD they rented from the Redbox.
That being said, every once in a great while a CG film born of this tactic defies all the odds by being watchable- and even rarer still, dare I say enjoyable.
Back to the Jurassic comes to us by way of South Korea in the form of a 2012 computer generated animated feature film known as Dino Time. It comes in at a run-time of 88-minutes and, oddly enough, wears a PG rating despite being more all-ages-friendly than most domestic animated efforts of late.
In any event, you have to give the English dub distributors (Alchemy) credit on their marketing strategy- this one was released 10 days before the blockbuster Jurassic World here in the US and, worse still, actually steals the tag-line from the original Jurassic Park film: An Adventure 65 Million Years in the Making. Let’s hope Universal Pictures is too busy to notice.
Anyway, the story here tells of rocket-skateboarder and all around rebellious kid Ernie (voiced by King of the Hill’s Pamela Adlon) and his exploits in his fictional home town of Terra Dino.
Ernie, like most of Terra Dino’s residents, is quite the dinosaur buff and, with nerdy best friend Max (Yuri Lowenthal) decides to go behind closed doors at the local dinosaur museum for a closer look at the bones they’ve been collecting.
After a groundation that doesn’t stick, Ernie escapes to Max’s house where the two of them, along with Ernie’s sister Julia (Tara Strong) end up inside of one of Max’s dad’s (voiced brilliantly by Fred Tatasciore) inventions: an egg-shaped time machine.
As you may have predicted, the trio find themselves in the Cretaceous (perhaps Back to the Cretaceous wouldn’t have allowed them to steal Jurassic Park’s tag-lines) and face to face with a mother T-Rex (Melanie Griffith) who, aside from being pink, seems to think the strange little mammals in her nest are her own hatchlings.
Factor in a pair of evil two evil Sarcosuchus brothers (voiced by real-life brothers Stephen and William Baldwin), a wacky colorful dino named Dodger (Rob Schneider), a few gas-spewing simpleton prehistoric birds and you have all the makings of a colorful, silly romp.
About the film’s greatest strength, aside from securing a surprisingly capable English cast, is an intelligently written script; especially in the early goings of the film. As in our time. Once the dinos enter the equation, things do take a step back in terms of humor, wit and plot strength but it is also likely the target age-group here will be much more forgiving.
The visuals are bright and clean with nice character models and surprisingly adequate animation cycles. In fact, their ability to match voice with mouth flaps is also uncannily smooth throughout. Another one of those small details that goes a long way.
All in all, Back to the Jurassic is simple, mindless entertainment that will likely appeal to kids for its linear plot and bright dinosaur models. Adults won’t be completely tortured as is so often the case with dubs; in fact, until the talking dinos portion of the show, there may even be enough wit to keep them smirking as well.