3 100 minute episodes

SF elements

humans and intelligent dinosaurs living together


Two brothers, Karl and David Scott, crash land on Dinotopia, a hidden island, where dinosaurs have survived (but not evolved) and are living in a perfect society with humans. The newcomers, initially hostile, gradually adapt and find value in the new society, and along the way, save it from destruction.

Ugh. I can feel the sugary cloying sentiment even as I write the words. The supposedly utopian vegetarian society is depressingly fascistic (people are assigned their careers and life-partners) and individualism-destroying, ruled over by a pompous bumbling mayor (this society deserves to die out!) and a fascist benevolent matriarch (a sweet, smiling Alice Krige, much scarier here than as the Borg Queen !).

[Karl and Zippo]

The plot is plodding, unbelievable (even with the necessary willing suspension of disbelief about coexisting intelligent dinosaurs) and full of holes. The two main characters act in completely inconsistent ways, depending on the demands of the story. This is presumably supposed to represent their growth, but does not ring true to me.

The dinosaur society is poorly realised -- these creatures have been around 65 million years longer than humans, but don't seem to have evolved much of a culture -- the society is completely human-dominated -- and the "footprint" alphabet is just silly (one symbol in four orientations, yet the letters have a one-to-one correspondence with English characters...).

There are a few good points. A few times seemingly-random events early on are picked up later (even if the dropping of the flare in the pond, to be found later, feels like a scene out of an adventure game) and Karl's graduation essay -- a few lines from Bohemian Rhapsody -- is a high point. The special effects are good, too, if inconsistent in style -- we move from CGI dinos to Verne-esque craft without batting an eye. Waterfall city looks really spectacular, and the cadet training school suitably vertiginous. Professor Zippo is realistic looking -- even if his characterisation is of the irritating "cowardly native guide" stereotype.

Rating: 5

[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 31 December 2002