In 1999, the BBC aired a six-part TV mini-series titled Walking with Dinosaurs, with narration provided by actor/filmmaker Kenneth Branagh (Thor). That ground-breaking television program imitated the general format for nature documentaries, but used a combination of CGI and animatronics to recreate dinosaurs living during the Mesozoic.
The expensive project turned out a success, as it soon racked up multiple awards -that includes three Emmys, with one for its technical achievements – and a year later, it aired on the Discovery Channel, with Avery Brooks (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) as the replacement narrator, taking over for Branagh. Many a parent has since introduced their children to the marvelous world of ancient world creatures by showing them either the U.S. and/or the original version of the min-series on home video (as I can attest from personal experience).
BBC Films and 20th Century Fox have joined forces to produce a proper cinematic adaptation that will get a theatrical release, under the full title of Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie. An international trailer for the film has been released, and it provides an early look at the more conventional narrative developed for the project – which is (according to an official summary) “set in the Late Cretaceous 70 million years ago [and] tells a thrilling story of families born and families torn apart, of growing up, rivalry and competition.”
Much like the original min-series, the Walking with Dinosaurs movie combines real-world landscape footage with digitally-rendered prehistoric creatures and locations that are no longer in existence. No surprise, the visual effects and cinematography do not seem impressive or special when viewed outside a 3D and/or IMAX theater; in fact, without the added dimension, the animation doesn’t appear to be much of an improvement on Disney’s Dinosaur (which was released back in 2000).
Obviously, the juice box crowd is the target demographic for this feature, and they should love seeing a variety of dinosaurs brought to cinematic life in 3D with (some) scientific accuracy. Basically, any parents with kids who are going through their dino-mania phase, might want to give this one a look; everyone else can just move along and wait to see Jurassic Park IV in 3D next year.
Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie was co-directed by Neil Nightingale (the creative director of BBC Earth).
It will open in select U.S. theaters on December 20th, 2013.