Review by Katie Fraser
Stars Natasha Loring, Matt Kane, Richard Dillane,
Peter Brooke, Stephen Jennings
Produced by Nick Hill & Genevieve Hofmeyr
Written by Sid Bennett & Jay Basu
Certification UK 12
Runtime 83 minutes
Directed by Sid Bennett
When the film opens with a statement along the lines of camera equipment being found and this is the footage – you pretty much can guess what you’re in for. The Dinosaur Project is very much like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield – a group of people experience some form of monster, catch the footage on shaky hand-held cameras and leave the evidence behind to be found after their presumed death.
This time, it’s real-life dinosaurs living in the Congo that are the monsters of interest. Despite knowing what’s to come, The Dinosaur Project is worth seeing – technology has come a long way since Jurassic Park (which for the record, is not to be compared with this latest Studio Canal release) and the dinosaurs look, well, just as we imagine how dinosaurs would look if they existed today.
The Dinosaur Project is a group lead by Marchant (Dillane), an English explorer who has heard rumours of a sea monster in the Congo resembling a prehistoric creature. Tagged along by his son and main narrator Luke (Kane), his wannabe-celebrity colleague Charlie (Brooke), a post-grad medicine student (Loring), a Congo native and a camera crew, they set off deep into the jungle to find evidence of living dinosaurs.
Before long (and really – you don’t have to wait long for the action to kick in) their helicopter is struck down by large bird-like creatures and they’re suddenly lost in the jungle, where they encounter many strange animals not seen for millions of years. Then one by one, they all start dropping off and we see it all from the point of view of Luke, wearing an assortment of cameras.
The story is fast-paced and action-filled. There’s a lot of great scenes where the tension is so thick and you know something is about to jump out and attack– but it never does, making for a real sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat film.
But, the script is flawed. At times it moves too fast – the character of Charlie turns jealous to maniac in a space of minutes. The relationship between Luke and his father also gets a big mushy for my liking.
The biggest problem I had with this film was with the story – all the dinosaurs entered and exited the outside world through the “gateway”, a hole in the jungle. Aside from this being very ‘goblin and fairy-like’, it wasn’t very well explained – at the end of the film, we see Luke throw the bag containing the camera and all footage from inside the dinosaur ‘universe’ (for want of a better term), yet it was later found in the river in the outside world, despite not having gone back through the “gateway”. There’s definitely some holes in this story.
If you don’t mind the shakiness of the found-footage genre (beware – a headache is likely), definitely go see this film if not for the computer-generated dinosaurs. It’s no Jurassic Park, but they did create some pretty cool-looking prehistoric monsters.