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Dinosaur (2000), (PG)
CAP Score: 83
CAP Influence Density: 0.30
UPDATED MAY 31, 2000
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NOTE: We make no scoring allowances for Hollywood's trumped-up "messages" to excuse, or its manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth. If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is purely objectuve and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.
SUMMARY / COMMENTARY:
Dinosaur (PG) -- breath-taking scenery & stunning artistry, both technical and natural - but sometimes brutal.
Dinosaur earned a final score of 83, which is at the "G" end of the scoring range of PG movies of 1995 and earlier (100 to 87 = G; 86 to 68 = PG). The main invasive property of Dinosaur was in violence -- and there was a lot of it -- as effectively as much as contained in R-rated movies of 1995 and before. The Impudence/Hate Investigation area score is 81. The other four Investigation Area scores are each 100.
In a broad sense, most any movie about dinosaurs or "pre-history" will fly in the face of the creation account in Genesis, because the theory of evolution suggests that humans were not around "way back then", whereas Genesis says that all land animals and man were created on the sixth day [Gen. 1:24-31]. The real reason we struggle with the Genesis account is that most of us have been "educated" with an evolutionary framework. For some excellent resources on the topic of creation and evolution, see Answers in Genesis and The Christian Research Insitutue. A word of warning: these resources may cause you to have to rethink your framework!
Also, in sampling some of the Disney children's literature that has been released in tandem with this movie, I notice a not-too-subtle attempt to tie the social behavioral changes depicted in the movie to the evolutionary concept of natural selection. Although the movie certainly portrays this, the movie is total fiction. Dinosaurs are animals. They have no high-level form of communication, no God-breathed spirit, no emotional societal framework. They have no concept of the Golden Rule. Yes, they are important because they are part of God's creation, but they are not human, and no-one--especially children--should be led to think otherwise.
Dinosaur was still an enjoyable and somewhat exciting movie-going experience for the older child and adults, but there are several scenes of violent immensity and brutality the younger kids will likely find upsetting. Even our 11-month old foster daughter, Lupita is sensitive to violently invasive programming. When the great cat attacked the mother ape in Tarzan. Lupita started crying because of the frightening aggression. At eleven months old! Kinda says something doesn't it? That the entertainment industry has influence over kids before they can even talk let alone navigate their own box of popcorn.
Surprisingly, there were no "cavemen" and no references I could find to evolution of man from the apes or from the slime of the ocean.
The movie opens with fighting for the possession of a Cretacious iguanodon egg. During the opening sequence, the realists will boast "That's the way wildlife is" as a T-Rex kills one of the smaller dinosaurs, ostensibly for food (the purpose was not revealed, just the killing). Maybe that is the way wildlife is, but when your child is exposed to such brutality should be YOUR decision as a parent, not the decision of a movie writer.
After a series of Rube Goldberg shenanigans as one dino-critter loses the egg and another captures it and loses it too, the egg finds rest among a nesting of lemurs (which supposedly did not exist in the Cretacious period, but according to Genesis). Just as the lemurs start inspecting the egg, it cracks and emerges Aladar (D. B. Sweeney). Aladar is Tarzan-ed (or Mowgli-ed) by the lemurs. Imagine that! A multi-ton iguanodon being raised by a gaggle of ten-pound lemurs. And everything is oozing with cute and happy-happy, joy-joy. I remind myself, it's a movie. There was, however, in this segment, a really fine portrayal of brothering as Aladar mentored his smaller "siblings", never using his immensity against them. Aladar even became involved in advising and consoling young lemur males in (what else?) courtship.
Then comes the mother of all meteor showers, destroying the entire region inhabited by the iguanodons and the lemurs. Led, in a sense, by Aladar, the surviving lemurs execute an exodus which leads them to a meeting with the rest of the surviving dinosaurs, who are trekking to The Nesting Ground (the dino-land of milk and honey). By the way, this meteor shower was apparently not the one speculated to cause the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Protagonists might get the impression that a sub plot of the story is of togetherness during times of distress, portraying that all peoples of all races and ages can live and work together and can attain much more in unity than in division [Luke 11:17]. While this is true, the T-Rexes and other meat-eaters (pure speculation, by the way--we do not know for certain that any dinosaurs were carnivorous -- there was no death before the great Fall) did not flock with the plant eaters, so division was still present--and thankfully so (in the animal world, anyway). The last time what is now the predator by nature laid next to what is now the prey was in the Garden of Eden and there will come a day when this happens again [Is. 11:6]. Since the period of Dinosaur is between Creation and the Garden of Eden, no one knows for sure how predator/prey aggression manifested itself if at all. The Bible speaks of a time when the lion will eat hay like the ox [Is. 11:7], so carnivorous attacks on live prey will one day not be vital to survival and perhaps, long ago, were not.
Further, the "togetherness" in the exodus to The Nesting Ground was not entirely voluntary. The "togetherness" was maintained by the intimidation of a brutal and selfish dino-critter named Kron (Samuel E. Wright) who was leading the pack of widely diversified species. Kron had been to The Nesting Ground before as had some of the older members of the pack such as Eema (with the voice of the matronly, ever-beautiful, and delightfully talented artist, Della Reese).
Kron is the quintessential dino-critter of brutality and uncaring coldness. He was willing to discard weak members to the scavengers in order to get to the destination. If it were not for Aladar and his initiative, some of the trekkers would not have made it. I speak of Aladar in a positive light, but there are some shadows in the light. There is a consistent sub plot of the youthful Aladar battling authority in this movie. Even though the youthful rebellion against authority was dressed up as needed and even vital to survival, and even though the authority in this movie was brutal, selfish and uncaring, it was still youthful rebellion against authority. And your kids will see and possibly mimic it during the typically unavoidable times of developmental muscle-stretching, wing-testing flarings of attitude [Prov. 22:15] ... when, for a short time, dad occasionally becomes Kron ... for a short time until it is time for the child to put away childish things [1 Cor. 13:11] ... all too short a time.
With personification of incredible detail, I guess directors Zondag and Leighton did not know the role of animals: that God gave the earth and all of its inhabitants to man for his use (but not ABuse) and decreed than man will rule every living thing on the earth [Gen. 1:28]. But then, there were not any humans in this movie. So ascribing human characteristics to amazingly realistic dino-critters can add to confusion -- really! Amplifying the physical personification of the realistic animals was the giving to them (except the carontaurs) a personality with a complex attitude and with hopes, dreams, expectations, plans, emotions -- just like man. Even a non-human cinematic character, when portrayed with human qualities, causes the observer--especially children--to feel a human bond with that character. And when these speaking, feeling characters are abused onscreen, it is inevitable that the young observer is influenced by it. It is just a movie...please consider making sure your tykes know that. Also consider ensuring your kids (and yourself) that no one knows whether dinosaurs roared or had any sense of camaraderie or sympathy. This might be especially important with this movie since it is not like the cartoon fantasy of Tarzan or Land Before Time. With realism down to the texture of dinosaur flesh and soft tissue movement about articulating bones, this movie may challenge or complicate your young child's separation of fantasy and reality, setting the groundwork for more difficulty as the child grows, especially when they try to separate fact from fiction with regards to the theory of evolution.
Please see the Findings/Scoring section below for a full accounting of this movie: for the best representation of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.
FINDINGS / SCORING:
NOTE: Multiple occurrences of each item described below may be likely.
Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
Offense to God (O)(2):