The Dinosaur Project (2012)

2013 #41
Sid Bennett | 83 mins | Blu-ray | 2.35:1 | UK & South Africa / English | 12 / PG-13

The Dinosaur ProjectFound footage movies, eh? You either love them or hate them. Well, plenty of people hate them. I don’t mind them — it’s fast becoming an unoriginal idea (“existing genre + found footage = exciting new idea” is a sum that stopped working a couple of years ago), but if it’s done well, of course it still works.

The Dinosaur Project is a low-budget entry in a genre which you’d think would be awash with low-budget entries, and perhaps it is, but I’ve not encountered many of them. That said, it was shot in South Africa and has some impressive CGI, so it actually looks the part of a pricier endeavour. OK, you’re not going to confuse it with a Cloverfield-level experience, but nor does it look like something a few YouTubers knocked up down the park on a Sunday afternoon.

The story concerns a group of present-day explorers heading into the jungle to find dinosaurs. Lead explorer-man’s son tags along for various contrived reasons, and because he is Young and Hip he brings a bunch of cameras that he’s constantly recording from, hence the found footage thing. And the footage is “found” rather than “returned” because, of course, Things Go Wrong. What things I won’t say, but it will surprise no one that they do indeed uncover some dinosaurs.

AwwwwEssentially, then, it’s a cut-price Jurassic Park, offering the same kind of “run away from the monsters!” thrills in a Modern way. And I don’t think it does it badly at all. If you hate the found footage phenomenon then this is going to do nothing to convert you, but if you don’t mind it, I think there’s a solid piece of entertainment in here. And if you actively like it then perhaps this is one of the better entries. It certainly has plenty of incident, which is more than can be said for some of them.

Plus, if you want to marvel at technical wizardy, the CGI and how it interacts with the real world is actually quite well done, especially bearing in mind the budget. I suppose we don’t notice such things in big-budget movies any more, because we know they can do it, but it does stand out in these low budget efforts. Which it shouldn’t. And doesn’t, unless you’re looking. Anyway.

The Dinosaur Project isn’t going to blow anyone’s mind, but as an adventure/horror-with-dinosaurs movie it’s a solid little thriller. It only runs for a brisk 83 minutes, too.

3 out of 5

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