Crazy Childhood: We're Back!
Is this film proof that dinosaurs should stay extinct?
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We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (1993)
Directed By: Dick Zondag, Ralph Zondag, Simon Wells, Phil Nibbelink
Starring: John Goodman, Felicity Kendal, Charles Fleischer, RenÃ© Le Vant, Kenneth Mars, Yeardley Smith, Joey Shea, Martin Short, Jay Leno, Julia Child, Blaze Berdahl, Rhea Perlman
as Captain Neweyes
More Drew Struzan goodness!
Dinosaurs, dinosaurs, dinosaurs. Why did we all of a sudden start to worship these reptilian creatures during the 90's? What was the main inspiration to create so many dinosaur toys, cartoons, video games, and half-ass direct-to-video movies?
Oh, yeah. Never mind.
Well, just as the popularity of these beasts started to rise, Steven Spielberg was not only the first to begin this fad, but was the first one to exploit his magnum opus of the 90's.
Several months after Jurassic Park was released, Spielberg's animation company Amblimation released We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, hopefully to be the alternative for kids, while teens and adults had "you-know-what". But guess what? Kids actually preferred "you-know-what" over the former. And why wouldn't they? Jurassic Park is clearly the better movie! But does that mean that We're Back! shouldn't be seen by any dinosaur fan? Well...unless of you wanna see dinosaurs tear apart human beings, then stay away from this as far as possible. But for everyone else, let's go take a look, shall we?
The movie originally started off as an 1987 children's book by American cartoonist Hudson Talbott. The film pretty much follows the plot of the book, so no nitpicking here. I guess the film was such a success, it helped the book spawn two sequels: Going Hollywood! A Dinosaur's Dream and Your Pet Dinosaur: An Owner's Manual.
You'll notice that Going Hollywood has a sticker that says to the people that it has become an animated film. Though the rights of the film have been sold to Universal, the film was never made. Go figure.
Looks like someone's getting a "boner-saurus".
If that Wish Radio works, then I wish that Nickelback was wiped off the face of the earth.
"Quick! Do I have something in my teeth?"
WHAT'S THE FILM ABOUT?
A kind old man named Captain Neweyes (Cronkite) travels back to the prehistoric age and feeds a quartet of dinosaurs (Rex, Elsa, Woog, and Dweeb) his "Brain Grain" cereal, which makes them smarter. The dinosaurs agree to go to the present in order to grant the wishes of children in N.Y.C., who wish to see dinosaurs.
Their mission is to meet up with the head of the Museum of Natural History, but get sidetracked with their new children friends and run into the Captain's evil brother, Professor ScrewEyes (Mars), who has other plans for the dinosaurs.
"Oh, God...I dreamt that I was hanging out with dinosaurs that would've made bad Happy Meal Toys."
WHAT'S GOOD ABOUT IT?
A lot of people seem to complain that the animation seems to look two-dimensional and unremarkable compared to Disney. While that may be true, I'll admit that out of all the non-Disney animated films from the early 90's, this one actually looks like it's trying to look differernt. The dinosaurs look cartoony and fun, though everyone else acts like a Saturday Morning cartoon characters.
I think we can all thank this film for having only ONE song. A lot of animated Non-Disney movies back then wanted to boast the songs they had written by some mediocre song-writing team, and they have, like, a BAJILLION songs, all of which can be forgettable. The song in this film may not be great , but at least it's better than hearing more than two songs in the movie.
Finally, the film has a really interesting villian death. Don't believe me? Watch this:
Sure, the scene doesn't make a WHOLE lot of sense now, but it did creep me out as a kid, and that's all that matters.
WHAT'S BAD ABOUT IT?
The dinosaurs don't really have enough character development, especially when the two main kids come into place. It's sad, considering that the film was written John Patrick Shanley, the same guy who wrote Moonstruck....though he also wrote Congo, so I guess his writing skills are mixed. Though they act based on their generic characteristics (e.g. the fat triceratops likes to eat), there's not much else.
Though he has a brilliant "death" scene, the overall villian of the film, Professor Screweyes, is a villian that had a chance of being a memorable villian but falls flat due to the flatness of the script. We do hear that he's mad and insane, but it's not explored enough.
But to be honest, that wasn't always the case. Below is a video that shows various pencil tests from the movie, but if you skip to 1:17, you'll see a deleted scene where Screweyes actually explains how he lost his eye and why he fears crows. This scene was cut from the final product because it was deemed too scary for kids.
Why was this scene cut? It doesn't show anything REALLY scary, it actually goes deeper into the character, and makes the movie less confusing! So, this is considered to be creepy for kiddies, yet the final 20 minutes, filled with ghastly images and roaring dinosaurs, is OK? Remember, this is from the same guy who said Land Before Time needed to be toned down.
"Am I on?"
"Mmmm...villian taste GOOD!"
What, is this We're Back! or a scene from Full House?
"It's-a me...NOT Mario!"
"Scah-REW you guys! I'm goin home!"
Sure, the film has it flaws, but I find this movie OK. The animation is nice to look at, it's geniuely creepy for kids, and a nice running time of 1 hour and 12 minutes makes this less hard to swallow. Plus, I'll always have this movie in my heart as one of the first movies to show me that every animated film has (and needs) a dark side.
Well, that's enough for today. Hope you enjoyed my article! And remember to stay tuned, for I'm looking into an animated movie SO horrible, it makes this (and any other bad animated movie) look like a masterpiece....