With Jurassic World almost ready to open its doors, writer Jess Allsopp takes a look at her favourite Dinosaur films…
JURASSIC PARK (1993)
Probably the most iconic dinosaur film and without a doubt the best. It’s hard to believe this film was released in 1993 because it really is timeless, it could have easily been made yesterday. This film revolutionised the world dinosaurs and educated (although not always totally accurately) the masses about these majestic creatures. Jurassic Park was successful in creating the ultimately feared ‘villain’; the velociraptor. Argued by some as his finest, Spielberg ushered in modern CGI and expertly created this fantasy world with the use of animatronics. Jurassic Park is an adaptation of the fantastic Michael Crichton novel which takes us to a remote island which has been converted into a safari park of dinosaurs, but before it can be open to the public is visited by a number of experts who are in for a very wild ride. Starring the late Richard Attenborough, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park has some of the most iconic scenes in cinematic history, one only needs to mention the word ‘toilet’ and it will send shivers down your spine. Even twenty years after its creation, and two sequels later with another on the way, Jurassic Park remains a perfectly paced film and featuring the universal favourite; the T-Rex makes this the ultimate dinosaur extravaganza.
Disney’s attempt at a dinosaur film may have been missed or forgotten by most but it stands heads above the rest at the number two spot. Not only does Dinosaur feature some of the best film music ever by the genius that is James Newton Howard, but the story and animation is amazing. For those who don’t know, Dinosaur is about an Iguanodon called Aladar who was raised by a family of lemurs and their search for refuge after a meteor destroys their home, yes really. It’s a real heart warmer which features some of the most visually stunning animation of the era. A film in which dinosaurs and lemurs are talking to one another may seem ridiculous but this family film has a real sense of adventure and is truly entertaining. The music and visuals offer a real treat, and the opening sequence is simply breath-taking. Even though it may not be an accurate depiction of dinosaurs this film offers real substance sharing themes of family and leadership. It is a treat for dinosaur fans and marked a breakthrough for Disney and other studios in technological animation.
THE LAND BEFORE TIME (1988)
Although dinosaurs are associated with being fearsome creatures, their movie success lies in family films and that is why this film remains one of the best in the dinosaur genre. The Land Before Time was an essential part of any 90s kids upbringing and is one of the most nostalgic films for those who remember it. Released in 1988, this film is charming and overwhelmingly sentimental. The story follows a young Apatosaurus called Littlefoot and his group of friends which include Ducky a saurolophus and Cera, a triceratops. Following several tragedies, the group are trying to make their way to the “Great Valley”. It is far from a film showing the scientific wonder and animalistic nature of dinosaurs. Instead it is a sentimental story of friendship that defies prejudice. Although fundamentally a kid’s film, this does contain heart-breaking scenes that will stay with you for years. Ultimately, The Land Before Time is a definitive childhood film, and stands its ground amongst The Lion King and other classics of its time. It is an endearing story of young dinosaurs and unless you expect a documentary-esque account of the extinction of dinosaurs then this film will not disappoint. It has few weaknesses and has earned its place amongst the most definitive dinosaur films to date.