Movie Review – The Dinosaur Project (2012)

Director: Sid Bennett

Stars: Richard Dillane, Peter Brooke, Matt Kane, Natasha Loring, Stephen Jennings, Andre Weideman, Abena Ayiva

After receiving reports of a strange creature appearing in Congo, famed explorer Jonathan Merchant (Dillane) heads up an expedition to figure out the true nature of the beast, for some suspect that it’s actually descended from a dinosaur (much like the theories for the existence of the Loch Ness Monster). After a tense argument with his son Luke (Kane) they head off, with Luke as a stowaway, and embark upon an adventure that could be their last.

It’s a dinosaur film, folks! Yaaaaay! We all love dinosaurs! But just because a movie has dinosaurs doesn’t make it a good movie. The Dinosaur Project combines dinosaurs with found footage, so that’s instantly going to put off a number of people because some people really hate that genre of film. I don’t mind it and although it suffers from the same failings as other found footage films, where it’s quite convenient that the camera was placed at the correct angle to capture the shot, there are a few neat tricks it employs that are fairly inventive, like one where they strap a camera to a dinosaur’s neck and we see the world from its perspective.

The story isn’t really anything new. There are two main threads of dramatic tension; one is the father-son relations while the other revolves around the jealousy of Jonathan’s partner, because he feels that Jonathan gets all the credit. The former was handled quite well. The latter…not so much. The character descended into over-the-top villainy far too effortlessly for my liking. But I was surprised by this film. It is low-budget but I thought the locations were gorgeous. The acting was so-so, I was disappointed that there wasn’t more wonder displayed when they found the dinosaurs, and it was only Luke who showed any sign of excitement.

When it comes to the dinosaurs I had mixed expectations going in. I knew it was a low-budget film so I didn’t expect anything on the level of Jurassic Park but at the same time they show a T-Rex on the poster. Here’s where I disappoint you, there is no T-Rex in the film. Obviously including it on the poster was a cheap marketing ploy and it’s a shame because it’s going to give an easy reason for people to get frustrated with the film. Also, technically, the dinosaurs in the film are evolved versions of other dinosaurs. Having said that, I quite liked them. There are different types, we’ve got land, air, and sea dinosaurs so I appreciated the different types of dinosaurs and the terrain they occupied. The effects were actually pretty good and I found myself impressed by them.

The Dinosaur Project has a poor rating on IMDB but I found that it exceeded my admittedly low expectations. If you want to satisfy your dino-cravings this isn’t that bad, and while I’m not going to give it a resounding recommendation I’m not going to warn people away from it either.

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