Having big ambitions is essential when doing anything creative. You have to believe that you can do it in order to actually do it. We are talking about painting, writing a book, making a video game, or making a movie. All these things are hard, and most people never even attempt to make any of them. However, for those that do, the process becomes a fantastic experience. Nevertheless, most of the time, it is also good to have your ambitions in check. This is a review of Kingdom of the Dinosaur, a movie that didn’t do that.
Kingdom of the Dinosaur is a post-apocalyptic with big aspirations that sadly never manages to achieve, not because of talent, but because of a clear lack of resources to put a complete vision on screen. The film is directed by Scott Jeffrey and stars Mark Haldor, Darcie Rose, Chelsea Greenwood, and Chrissie Wunna. The film tells the story of a group of survivors hiding in a bunker while WWIII happened on the surface. When they go out looking for supplies, they are attacked by dangerous dinosaurs.
The premise sounds kind of dumb, but many storylines do. There are no bad ideas for stories, only flawed executions of those ideas. Kingdom of The Dinosaur wants to create this expansive world with dinosaurs, and conflict on a global scale, and yet, it needs to ground all these ideas around a small group of survivors. From the beginning, you can see that the script is trying to shrink the story as much as it can. But the way it is done feels forced because there are still glimpses of the big stuff throughout the movie.
The movie tries to center its story around the survivors, but at the same time, it wants to explore the creation of the dinosaurs and their contribution to the war that killed the world. It wants to do it so badly, that it feels like those elements are totally getting in the way of the real story. The dialogue is heavy with exposition, and sometimes it feels like the actors don’t really believe what they are saying. It could be interesting, but it all comes off as a bit contrived.
The casting is solid, and most of the actors are trying their best, but the writing is the weak link in the chain and throws everything to the ground. Greenwood comes out as the most relatable in the group. Her character is just so tired of everything in this bleak world, and sadly, some of the worst things happen to her. Her reactions are great.
On the other hand, Haldor comes off as too stiff. The movie centers on him as the main character, our tough hero, but the actor doesn’t know how to sell the elements of bravery and leadership that a character like that needs. For example, the ending of the film lacks a lot of punch because Haldor cannot carry the weight of the feelings going through the narrative. He has the looks of a tough guy, for sure, but his acting ability might not be the best one.
The film is well shot, although the extreme use of close spaces makes the film feel too small for the story it is trying to tell. This is where the lack of resources becomes clearer. A good script doesn’t take more than sheets of paper and a pen, but having sets that work accordingly with your world, and having solid visual effects, well, those things are really expensive. Kingdom of The Dinosaur cannot afford those elements, but it tries, it really tries.
However, even when trying with good intentions, sometimes it is good to step back and see what you are doing. The visual effects in Kingdom of The Dinosaur are way below the standard for any production. And so, it makes you wonder why they add these elements to the film if it is very clear that you cannot execute them properly. The result only hurts the film and makes it feel cheap and more like a waste of time than anything else.
Kingdom of The Dinosaur clocks around 75 minutes in total. And yet, the movie moves so slowly that it doesn’t feel at all like an action movie. It is more like a drama pretending to be action, but it can because it doesn’t have the money. Again, the intentions are good, but this story should have been something completely different. The story should have been adapted to the budget at hand and taken the most advantage of it. The money used for those visual effects could have been used somewhere else.
Kingdom of The Dinosaur tries but fails. There is definitely a market for this type of movie, and there is an audience for sure. However, it is hard to say that this is a good movie, or that it could be considered one in the future. There are just too many things that are not executed properly. If only the movie could have taken a step back and realized what could actually be achieved with what they had, it would have been so much better.