What’s it About?
Found footage of an expedition into the Congo jungle where a team of explorers stumbles upon a colony of Dinosaurs.
The Dinosaur Project
Directed by Sid Bennett
5 out of 10
Well, I’ve endured much, much worse than this movie. I mean, really, I put myself through torture watching films from The Asylum that air on the SyFy channel these days. The Asylum churns out grade Z monster movies ( over-sized sharks and Crocodiles, too) like they came off an assembly line. So, when the prospect came up for me to watch a new Dinosaur filled sci fi film (that wasn’t made by The Asylum) I became somewhat excited.
I love dinosaur movies. The good, the bad and the ugly. I’m even partial to Roger Corman’s “Carnosaur” films. I love all things Godzilla and Jurassic Park. Yeah, I even dug JP3. So sue me. So, this British film from Director Sid Bennett (I shouldn’t Be Alive) looked to be right up my alley. After a few aborted starts, I finally was able to soak it all in after an uninterrupted viewing. So, on we go…
I must admit, guys, I groaned loud enough for my neighbors to hear when I realized it was a “Found Footage” movie. Yep. I rolled my eyes, rubbed my face in disgust and almost turned it off. Then I thought: “Oh well, it’s less than 90 minutes long. At least it’ll go by fast” So, I sucked it up and watched. The film starts off basically well and seems put together ok.
It starts off in the Congo on a river where some fishermen find a back pack with hard drives and video tapes in it wrapped in bubble packing. It does starts off on an eerie and dangerous note. It seems that they discovered evidence that a Crypto-Zoological Expedition has gone missing. After, though (It flashes back actually.I know. It’s confusing) we have to endure intros, the camera set ups and get oriented to who is holding the cam. Who is being recorded. Blah blah blah.
Matt Kane (The Cut) plays Luke. A young teen who is a bit estranged from his very popular Indiana Jones type explorer Dad. Kane seems to be channeling Harry Potter here. Did no one tell him to try and speak a bit differently or try another inflection? He sounds exactly like Daniel Radcliffe. Oh well. So he plays around with all these cool little cams and tries to desperately get his Dad to let him go chasing a “Loch Ness of the Congo” with him on his next expedition. To no avail though. His Dad won’t have it and he plans on leaving him behind. Poor Luke. He and his Dad do not really have much in common. It’s strained and complicated.
A TV crew tags along with Luke’s Dad, Marchant, played by Richard Dillane (The Dark Knight) and the rest of the expedition which also consists of a Doctor chick named Liz played by Natasha Loring and Marchant’s long time assistant named Charlie (Peter Brooke). They wind up flying out to Africa and joining a woman who works for the African Government as a um…I forget. But she’s a glorified nature guide.
So let me skip through some of this stuff. Luke sneaks on the plane. Dad is pissed. Luke mopes. Guide lady and Liz see huge flying dinos that go straight for the airplane. They crash. Pilot dies. There’s an explosion and they rest of the expedition end up finding shelter at an abandoned village. They all, including the TV crew, try to sleep as a Cam set up by Luke records these noisy, winged dinos that attack the Hut. By now, I am getting a bit dizzy from the camera-work already. There are some interesting angles and shots but the constant changes and confusion don’t help the movie very much.
Well there you have it. That’s the story. They all now try to survive the jungle and the OK looking dinos that pop up here and there. The Father and Son drama gets very boring very fast and the re-bonding between them is predictable and routine. The dinos aren’t very scary though. There are 2 which make an appearance later but they don’t instill much fear just a bit of a wow factor and that’s all. Even Luke gets to have one for a pet and names it “Crypto” the frolic and jump in the water and if the cam style isn’t bad enough we have to endure shakey under water shots of the dinos going back to their nest or whatever.
Along with attacks from under the water (Mokele Mbembe) by big aquatic dinos that result in what? More shakey under water cam shots of people panicking in the water. I think half of this film is just crazy, disorienting shakey and bothersome hand held shots. There is a subplot, by the way, that involves Charlie turning into a really big dick that totally distracts and bogs down the action. It only serves to try and bring Luke and his Dad closer.
So, without divulging any more of the story (sorry, Dr Liz is dispatched early and she is totally wasted as well as a camera-man) I’ll just admit that I’m giving The Dinosaur a 5 because the dino’s look ok in some scenes and the Mokele Mbembe scene is well done. There is some interesting dino action but it is very short lived and we want more and don’t get it. Bennett does get some “Money Shots” of the awesome locales which are awe-inspiring to watch but they are fleeting. The acting is very average. Kane is epically annoying and not believable. Dillane fares better and he is one of the saving graces. The characters also make really bad decisions like not going with the African guide lady to get help. I totally did not get that.
I’m reminded of the awesome BBC show “Primeval” where there are smart people who deal with dinos in England on a daily basis. Bennett should have taken a page or two from that book. He means well but a found footage movie is the wrong way to reel us into a dino movie. The format itself is to blame. It’s a good effort for some involved but it’s just too underwhelming. I think I’ll go watch an “Asylum” movie now. Where really hokey looking CGI beasties are still more interesting than The Dinosaur Project is.