Hallmark Entertainment’s Dinotopia is one of the best unknown mini-series released during the first decade of the new millennium. This hybrid live action/CG based fantasy flick is unlike almost any other fantasy tale out there today. It follows the journey of two young men—Karl (Tryon Leitso—Being Erica) and David (Wentworth Miller—Prison Break) as they discover a mystical land in which dinosaurs and humans live together in harmony after their plane crashes in the ocean. The story is just one part of what makes Dinotopia such an enjoyable family presentation. Just as impressive as the story is its CG dinosaurs and backdrops. And despite the fact that this is an indie presentation, one must note not just the backdrops and dinosaurs, but also the acting. Even the cast’s acting plays its own role (pun totally intended here) in the overall presentation of the mini-series. The three factors together make Dinotopia a mini-series worth watching at least once by any family, especially now that it has been re-issued in a double-disc DVD pack by Mill Creek Entertainment.
On the surface, the concept of two individuals discovering a world in which man and dinosaur isn’t entirely original. The concept has been raised before. But with author James Gurney working with writer Simon Moore, the pair have crafted a story based on Gurney’s books that has a charm all its own. Audiences that allow themselves to suspend their disbelief will be amazed at how easily the script pulls them into the magical world that is Dinotopia and into Karl and David’s own personal growth. Viewers will appreciate watching Karl grow from a rebellious young man into a caring parent of sorts as he cares for the young “26” and even try to look out for the people of Dinotopia in his own way. Most of all, audiences will enjoy the manner in which Moore and Gurney adapt the oft used plot element of characters challenging the norms of a given people, and eventually coming out on top as heroes in the end. That element more than any other will keep viewers engaged throughout each of the three parts into which the mini-series is split.
Dinotopia’s script plays one of the most important roles in the success of the series. Audiences should also take into account the balance of the series’ live action elements and CG dinos and backdrops that make up the world of Dinotopia. Considering the fact that this is an independently produced and presented story, the combination of live action set against CG backdrops and dinosaurs could have been far worse. Surprisingly enough, the combination of the two elements is on par with any series or movie backed by a major studio. It’s obvious that Hallmark and those with whom the company worked wanted to give viewers the best possible viewing experience that they could just by looking at the balance of the noted elements. One of the best examples of how well the elements were blended comes late in the story when David and Karl end up on a high energy water raft ride as they elude Dinotopian authorities. It’s obvious what is real and what CG in this sequence. But even in telling the difference, the elements are solidly balanced, thus making suspension of disbelief even easier for viewers.
It should be clear by now just how seriously Hallmark Entertainment and its partners took the creation of Dinotopia. The script and the balance of live action and special effects work in tandem to make this mini-series truly enjoyable for any family. For all of their positive influence, there is still one more factor to observe in analyzing the story’s presentation and what makes it the surprise that it is. That final factor is the acting on the part of the cast. Again, one must reference the fact that Dinotopia is an independent work in analyzing the acting on the part of its cast. Just as its script is surprisingly impressive, so is the cast’s acting. Leitso and Miller both clearly took their jobs with the utmost seriousness from start to finish. Their interpretation of the scripts makes suspension of disbelief even easier. In turn, the story becomes even more enjoyable with each watch along with the other noted factors. It becomes a story that while it may go on relatively unknown by audiences will prove to those that give it a chance, to be a very underrated family presentation. It is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from Mill Creek Entertainment at https://www.millcreekdirect.com/dinotopia-journey-to-the-center-of-the-earth-fantasy-double-feature.html. More information on this and other releases from Mill Creek Entertainment is available online at http://www.millcreekent.com and http://www.facebook.com/MillCreekEnt.
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