The Dinosaur Project
The Dinosaur Project will keep a young audience entertained, but may struggle to win over adults.
The Dinosaur Project is a British found footage flick, chronicling the adventures of a group of cryptozoologists as they journey to the heart of the Congo in search of the often-sighted Mokele Mbembe – a huge water bound beast that may or may not be a dinosaur. The ambition of the film is admirable, even if the execution is occasionally flawed, but there is enough here to keep a family audience entertained.
In casting the leads as a documentary team, the film avoids the shaky-cam tendencies of its sub-genre, and although the majority of camera setups are hugely contrived, it is strangely refreshing to be able to actually see something. It is a different approach to the format, abandoning attempts at believability in favour of spectacle, and this is where the film finds its biggest strength.
Credit must go to director Sid Bennett and DoP Tom Pridham for capturing some absolutely beautiful location work. The South African locations make for a fine Congo substitute, with some gorgeously shot settings proving very easy on the eye indeed. Less so are the CGI dinosaurs, which come thick and fast, and are serviceable but never credible – the film is somewhat hamstrung by its budget in this respect.
The cast of characters are a fairly clichéd bunch, with lead explorer Jonathan Marchant (Richard Dillane) sharing a sub-Spielberg relationship with son Luke (Matt Kane), while plucky medic Liz (Natasha Loring) and savvy African guide Amara (Abena Ayivor) providing familiar-feeling company. The spunky cast do a decent job with the script they are given, and the enthusiasm for the project is clear, but the events of the film are too often predictable to be truly gripping.
Very much pitched at a younger audience, The Dinosaur Project will entertain, but is perhaps a touch on the violent side to be totally successful in winning this crowd over. There are some memorable sequences in here, and kids will no doubt enjoy seeing the leads dodging prehistoric beasties, but The Dinosaur Project will unfortunately struggle to win over an adult audience through a lack of tension and a predictable script.