When a meteor shower destroys the home in which Aladar and his family live, they are forced to swim back to the mainland and join up with Aladar’s kind. The dinosaurs. But not everyone is as kind hearted and noble as Aladar. With carnivores trailing the herd, and the aggressive leader of the herd, Kron, breathing down his neck, Aladar has to learn how to maintain the values he has been raised with in a world where survival of the fittest is the reigning mentality.
This movie, while it may be about dinosaurs who roamed the earth millions of years ago, a la Land Before Time style, is a gold mine full of little nuggets of positivity and timeless truths. And the common thread between all the positive elements of this movie are connected together by one individual. Aladar.
The movie opens up with a newly hatched Aladar already challenging people’s mindset as his soon to be grandfather (a lemur) has to over prejudice, choosing to show the possible flesh eater compassion instead of disposing of him, and this scene sets the tone for not only the movie, but Aladar and his unusual family, as well. Along every step of the journey, Aladar is there spurring others on and giving encouragement. While Kron spurns the old and weak, Aladar gives them value, caring for the older, more “disabled” herd members whose inability to keep pace would make them lunch for the voracious “Carnotaurs.”
Bruton, who initially looks down on Aladar for his selflessness and care of others, is eventually moved by not only Aladar’s kindness, but the kindness and love of his unusual family. Bruton sees a mindset he has never been exposed to before. The mindest of love and community. In the end, he is willing to make incredible sacrifices for those who showed him kindness.
There are many themes in this movie; one of the themes depicted is that of teamwork. We see Aladar teach a pair of young iguanodons to work together, which is then magnified on a much larger scale when Aladar challenges the herd to stand together and stop thinking with the mindset of every man-er… dinosaur, for themselves. It is during this scene that Kron makes a fatal mistake, and yet we still see Aladar rush to his nemesis’ aid.
But perhaps the most poignant theme for me wasn’t the message of persist and persevere, but rather, I loved the closeness of Aladar’s family, and the fact that they really were the reason Aladar was the kind of heroic creature he was. All of those traits were first imparted to him and his 2 siblings by his grandfather and mother. He, like the others around him, was a product of his environment- his positive environment.
No language, no drugs, no alcohol, and no crude humor (unless you count the urinating baby iguanodon crude humor). The only possible issues that can be found with this movie are 1.) the minor sexual content, or 2.) the fact that, at its core the movie does come from an evolutionary mindset, despite the fact that the themes of the movie debunk the evolutionary mentality of survival of the fittest.
The sexual content, however, is very mild. Zinni (Aladar’s mangy looking brother) is a bit female crazed, and refers to himself as the love monkey, even though he has yet to find a mate. This same older brother tries to give Aladar pick up lines when he meets Neera, Kron’s sister, which don’t go over so well. In addition, we see the lemurs participating in a mating ritual (basically they leap around from vine to vine) early on, and we hear some mating advice given by the elders. It’s all very tame, however.
Violence is low key, but should be noted. We see dinosaur eggs crushed, meat eaters happily devour their prey (there is crunching heard some of the time, but everything is out of frame), raptors pick clean a carcass, and various characters pit themselves against another in a fight for dominance. Having watched the movie with multiple different children, I can safely say that the violence is not at all overwhelming.
The effects are great and the message solid. It’s an older movie with supporting characters that could have been fleshed out a bit more, but whose main character is much to be emulated. I loved this movie as a child and, having recently rewatched it as an adult, I can still say with satisfaction that I truly enjoyed this movie.