Tuesday, May 18

Movie Review - The Land Before Time series part 1 (intro/first movie)

    Over the next month or so, I will be reviewing the entire Land Before Time series. Just so you know, that means thirteen movies and a 26-episode TV show. Like I said a while back, the original Land Before Time movie was important to my childhood, and I still enjoy it today. I watched the first six movies as a kid, and back then I enjoyed them. Now, well...HELP ME! (part 2 here, part 3 here, part 4 here)

    The movie was directed by Don Bluth, whose a bit of a legend when it comes to animated films - The Land Before Time is considered one of his better films. It's loaded with themes of life and death, as well as strong anti-racist themes. It's actually pretty sad for a family film, but as a result it has one of the happiest endings I remember as a child. Of course like many of their owned franchises, Universal likes to whore them out as much as possible, hence the 12 sequels and TV show.

    The movie (and it's sequels) is about young dinosaurs of different species who become friends and have to work together. You have Littlefoot the Apatosaurus ("longneck"), Cera the Triceratops ("threehorn"), Ducky the Saurolophus (first called "bigmouth", later called "swimmer"),  Petrie the Pteranodon ("flyer"), and Spike the baby Stegosaurus ("spiketail"). Littlefoot is the leader of the gang, and the central character of the series. He is open to the other species, and doesn't understand why different species can't get along too well. He shows remarkable intelligence in the sequels, but we'll get to that later. He is also the only child of his mother and grandparents, as his father disappeared at some point. Cera is the strong willed, but stubborn member of the gang. She's proud, she likes to appear brave and strong, but inside she is cowardly and insecure. She has the most difficulty getting along with the others, but is still a loyal and protective friend. She is probably the deepest character in the series. Ducky is the cutest character in the series, and gets along with everyone. She's also spawned a number of catchphrases, which I'm sure will get annoying by the time I finish this series. She's not the smartest character in the series, but she's probably the least gullible. Petrie is, well, the annoying member of the group. He is the most gullible and cowardly member of the group, but he somehow finds bravery when he needs to. Spike is the youngest member of the group. He doesn't talk much, in fact, he only says two words throughout the entire series. He eats plenty, maybe even too much, and that often causes problems for the group. He is smarter than he first appears however.

    Today I'll be taking a bit of a break from the normal junk I review and focus on the first movie only. In this movie, you see the five main characters born (well, four of them anyway, not sure about Petrie.) You also learn that the land is drying up. All the dinosaurs are searching for a green and fertile land called "The Great Valley." This valley is full of "green food", water, and is even protected from predators. The journey to this valley makes up the bulk of this film. Before too long, Littlefoot tries to befriend Cera, despite their parent's disapproval. However, a Tyrannosaurus Rex ("sharptooth") shows up and attacks them. Littlefoot's mother saves them, but dies in the process. Cera is also separated from her family, and begins wandering the land alone. After a time of mourning, Littlefoot decides to search for the "Great Valley". He is soon joined by Ducky and Petrie, who are also alone. They also encounter Cera, and even witness Spike's hatching. The five baby dinosaurs head toward the "Great Valley" together.

    They have their differences and problems, but the five eventually learn to get along and become friends. They even overcome and kill the "sharptooth" that killed Littlefoot's mother. This movie very well done overall. The artwork is unique and fits the movie's mood perfectly, the soundtrack is excellent (and used throughout the sequels constantly,) and the anti-racism themes are actually very effective. If there's only one problem with this movie, it's the length - it's barely over an hour long. Actually, I think it's less than an hour long if you don't count the credits. Now I know that kids movies are often short, but this one really feels like it could have been longer. Even so, this is a great movie that I would recommend to kids and adults, well, as long as those adults still enjoy family films.

Two word review - Heavily Recommended

There might not be a review next week, but my next review will be The Land Before Time 2 through 6, the other five movies I watched as a kid...help!

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