Get Ready To Fear Extinction
Starring: Richard Dillane, Peter Brooke, Matt Kane
Director: Sid Bennett
2012 | 82 Minutes | PG-13
“You were never meant to come here!” – Amara
The Dinosaur Project combines two genres I am quite fond of – dinosaurs and the much maligned found footage genre. I have spoken before about what a great guilty pleasure found footage films are for me but what I haven’t talked about is my love of dinosaurs. I may sound like a five year old in this but it is pure honesty. Dinosaurs are awesome, plain and simple. No arguments to the contrary will be accepted.
A team of explorers searching for a mythical creature crash their Helicopter in the African jungle after being knocked out of the sky by a flock of enormous birds. They discover strange creatures which civilization has thought extinct for millions of years.
The Dinosaur Project isn’t technically a true found footage film. It is sort of like what we would get if National Geographic had actually found this footage and edited it into a TV documentary. Very similar to The Bay. I might be splitting hairs a little but a true found footage film doesn’t generally have tons of cuts and multiple cameras. But it is what it is. The Dinosaur Project sort of tips the found footage genre on its head.
Even though most people seem to be of the impression that this genre has been done to death, the filmmakers prove that there are still some fun things that can be done. The motion sensor night vision camera made for a really nice effect to get some tension going early on. The kid also straps his Go Pro to the neck of a young Dilophosaurus which takes us on a wild ride to its lair.
The genre lends itself to minimizing our view of the dinos to little more than fleeting glimpses but even when we get a few extended shots the CGI is really pretty solid for a movie that presumably has a smallish budget.
The genre isn’t without its usual downfalls though. “Panicky” moments are marked by pixelated video and, worse, extended moments of pure, silent darkness. Such moments are done for effect but leave the viewer wondering when the video and/or audio are coming back. Not to mention the shaky cam. Almost by definition these types of movies are going to be chock full of it. That doesn’t mean a director can’t make the conscious choice to minimize it though. Mr. Sid Bennett did no such thing.
All in all I was pleasantly surprised with The Dinosaur Project. The movie starts with a horror vibe, then settles into a more comfy adventure mode before heading back to something of a horror/thriller hybrid. The movie never captures even a small portion of the awe, wonder and at times horror that Spielberg created with Jurassic Park nor does it capture the adequate sense of adventure. But, it does alright. It was entertaining. It had some new, albeit small, ideas. And it was only 82 minutes. What do you have to lose?
And for those of you in Europe you get a much cooler DVD cover than us Americans do.