In just over a month, the long-awaited Jurassic World will open to the world. But the Jurassic series is not the first to venture in the genre of dinosaurs meet humans. In fact, this is one of the first scenarios that early film explored and which, since then, has inspired many in the film world to pursue the limitless possibilities the genre can provide.
Now as a very passionate dinosaur enthusiast, I have some dinosaur films that come to mind that would be great to watch to while getting ready for Jurassic World. Granted, you could watch the original trilogy, but that means the likelihood of watching Jurassic Park 3 increases, and you definitely don’t want to do that. Like really. That movie is terrible.
So brace yourselves, readers, for Dink’s top 7 dinosaur movies (that aren’t Jurassic Park)!
7. You Are Umasou (2010)
This Japanese animated movie is a better and more realistic Land Before Time. The story is about a T-Rex named Heart who was raised by plant-eaters to try to find peace within himself since he always dreads that one day he may eat his family. After running away, he finds a baby dinosaur to whom he says, “Oh, you look Umasou (delicious)” and the baby mistakes it for his name and mistakes Heart for his father. Honestly, find this movie and watch it. It’s cute and almost on par with Miyazaki films.
I put this into my list because it does show some really amazing dinosaurs. I know that many did not like this movie, but I did enjoy the decent paleontology jokes and the really good blend of making the dinosaurs “retro” yet a little more modern in appearance. Grumpy the T-Rex is one of my favorite portrayal of a T-rex and this film is a comical approach to the “Lost World” genre and a good way to start your dinosaur marathon with a little bit of mirth. Before all the running…and screaming.
Now, many of you probably didn’t even know that this movie existed but here’s what you’re missing. It is an American/Japanese production where a big game hunter and millionaire takes a team to a “lost world” found deep in the Arctic and encounter the “last” Tyrannosaur on the planet. This movie’s campy but I find it an amazing production. The story is influenced obviously by The Land that Time Forgot with its Arctic local and tropical prehistoric paradise. Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for man-in-suit creatures or because the hunter is the actor who voiced Smaug in the original Hobbit cartoon. Take a gander at this film and remember…it is kind of a ride.
Peter Jackson’s King Kong is a fantastic film that features the amazingly well done lost world of Skull Island. What makes this lost world unique is that all the animals that live on it are modern evolutions of prehistoric ones. This means that instead of T-Rex, you have the much more evolved V-Rex. Only, watch the extended edition since it makes the dreaded boat scene worth it and you get the first “Venture Crew Versus the Pissed Off Dinosaurs” and the wonderfully done “Swamp Scene” that were cut from the final film.
This independent addition to the (hopefully dying) wave of “found footage” films since the success of Cloverfield. This shaky camera romp is a British production where the story involves a cryptozoologist dad and his son who go to the Congo and uncover the truth of the area’s sightings of dinosaurs. The movie is surprisingly good. Like really. They do a unique approach of making sure the dinosaurs are unfamiliar because they would have evolved to this specific ecosystem. There’s some decent CGI that is used and the acting is pretty nice. I actually like the father/son relationship that is shown in the movie and the dashes of humor placed amongst the thrills and chills of man clashing with dinosaur.
A stop-motion masterpiece crafted from the master of creature features, Ray Harryhausen, The Valley of Gwangi is simply “cowboys vs. dinosaurs”. The story takes place in Mexico where a Wild Bill-esque horse show stumble upon a prehistoric horse from a Forbidden Valley where gypsies warn only death lies. The cowboys decide that they’ll go to the valley and see if they can wrangle a critter in for their show which we all know won’t work out. This movie is personally one of my favorites and an amazing display of Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion talents. The titular Gwangi (an Allosaur) plays the “baddie” but it is an amazing display. The characters all play archetypes but are likable and the story itself is entertaining.
Though it has the same title, this isn’t the Jurassic Park sequel. The original short story was in fact one of the first stories (if not actually the first) of man meeting prehistoric beasts in the modern age. Written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (yes, he wrote about dinosaurs too) it’s an adventure where scientists from England travel to a remote area in the Amazon rainforest and find a plateau where prehistoric creatures from dinosaurs and ice age mammals continue to thrive. This is honestly one of my all-time favorite stories and there are many film adaptations of it but this particular one, a two-part TV movie, is the best.
Bob Hoskins plays Professor Challenger, the eccentric leader of the expedition (and personal role model for my own life). The dinosaurs and prehistoric animals are created by the same effects team who did the infamous “Walking with…” documentaries on prehistoric life and the British TV series Primeval (another good prehistoric-theme series you’ve gotta watch). There are some amazing plot points in the film and I actually had a friend watch it once and said he preferred it to Jurassic Park. This is the dinosaur movie that goes to show that no matter what, life finds a way.