A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

April 12, 2011

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

Oh, wow. What on Earth is this? We ended up owning this because it is part of a two-for-one movie set with Moon Zero Two, which we desperately wanted to have in our collection, but we really didn’t have any idea what it was. Okay, I kind of suspected it was a cheesy One Million Years BC knockoff but nothing prepared me for this bizarre combination of pantomime, mystical nonsense, surprisingly good special effects and constant wardrobe malfunctions.

I knew going into this movie that it was going to be a strange kind of fantasy. Movies involving pre-historic people interacting with dinosaurs are by necessity not particularly realistic. But then during the opening narration (the only English in the entire film) we are told that this movie takes place in a time when there was not yet a moon. (Really?) The primitive people of this strange alternative Earth believe that they need to sacrifice the blond female members of their tribe in order to make the sun rise. (You would think that they’d soon run out of blonds since they are clearly a minority in the tribe and the ceremony at the start of the film are sacrificing them three at a time.) The strange thing is that they might actually be right – when one of the blonds tries to escape and plummets to her death the sun actually does go out and a strange storm blow up out of nowhere. Under cover of the storm our heroine Sanna escapes out to sea where she is rescued by the simple fisherman Tara.

His people are dinosaur hunters who live off the bounty of the sea. They welcome Sanna among them (except for Tara’s jealous ex-girlfriend who finds herself spurned because he is fascinated by Sanna’s flaxen locks.) Her old tribe soon comes looking for her, however, because the sun keeps switching on and off for some reason and their leader is obsessed with the notion that she must be sacrificed. She flees into the wilderness and… stuff happens. There’s a big snake, a man-eating plant, a triceratops, a dinosaur that believes Sanna is its child… stuff like that. Tara finds Sana in the wildreness, is captured by hunters, sacrificed himself, survives, re-unites with Sana and they would live in bliss were it not for apparently both tribes combined hunting them across the land in one of the longest chase scenes ever filmed.

A couple things stand out about this movie. It has no English dialog for one – instead it uses a made-up language which only seems to have five or six words to it. Even if it were in English this limited vocabulary would make communication hard for the peoples of the film. They’re limited to shouting the equivalent of “Look! Come! Go! Kill!” So any time they need to communicate they need to do a lot of waving their arms around, pointing and such. It looks like a difficult way to get things done.

Also difficult for the primitive people of this world must be the impractical wardrobe. Everybody (except for one particular older woman in Tara’s tribe) wears absolutely minimal clothing. Breech clouts for all and strapless bikini tops for the women. Tops which are ever so slightly too small. It’s horribly distracting that the actress playing Sanna spends so much time popping out of her costume. It just plain doesn’t fit, and the film makers seem to have made the entire movie with the intent of putting her in situations where it will fail. Swimming, running, bending over. This movie makes me feel uncomfortably voyeuristic.

Most incongruously this movie features some top flight stop-motion animation. The dinosaurs are detailed, intricate and well animated. Indeed there are a couple shots that I simply can’t figure out. For example when Tara’s tribe is tying down a kind of cross between a seal and a pliosaurus by its neck. The actors holding the ropes interact with the stop motion puppet seamlessly. Likewise there’s a shot where some actors throw spears at the dinosaur which works amazingly well. How did this cheesy exploitation film end up with such astonishing (and apparently Oscar nominated) special effects? It boggles the mind.

That pretty much summarises the movie for me. Mind boggling. It’s such an odd mix of the ludicrous and the ambitiously creative that I just don’t know how to file it in my brain. Were it made today it would be on the SciFi channel and involve lots of digital effects and fewer bare breasts. They just don’t make them like this any more.

April 12, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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