Normally when I watch a movie, I start liking, or hating, it right from the start. Those first few minutes are crucial in grabbing an audience's attention and making them stick in their seats. With Dino Project, however, even before the first filmed image appeared, I knew I was on to a loser.
A caption appears right at the start, extolling the fact that the movie was made from found footage from an expedition etc. etc. In other words, trying to convince us that it is real. This was the first, but not the last, clue that the filmmakers were taking themselves far, far too seriously with this one.
This made me suspect that the movie is intended for a much younger audience. I adjusted my expectations accordingly, but it wasn't far enough.
There are so many plot holes...
The son, having been told he can't with his father on the expedition, magically manages to teleport himself into the helicopter. Seriously, we see the father walking out the door to go to the heliport. Next, the boy is somehow in the cargo section of the chopper. Exactly how he managed this feat of reverse Houdinism is never explained, because it can't be.
Then there is the father. A man who is supposed to be a skilled expedition leader. You judge this... A man who, following a crash, makes everyone leave the area, contrary to accepted doctrine. Later, when they find a village where there has clearly been bloody, and recent, violence, decides they should stay the night. A man who, when they are inevitably attacked, makes everyone run out of the defensible huts and into the jungle in the dark, causing the death of one team member. A man who, despite clearly seeing a pterodactyl through the helicopter window just before the crash, declares them to be "African waterfowl".
Then there's the fatherson problems. Save me from this in every damn movie! They both act like dicks most of the time and through much of the film I hoped they would die.
The token local character goes from being a modern, knowledgeable guide, to being a stereotypical native frightened of the unknown in just a few scenes. Ridiculous and god-awfully patronizing. It got so ludicrous that I expected her to be cowering around a campfire in the next scene, muttering about "Bad Juju!"
Someone also watched one-too-many episodes of Ghost Hunters and similar paranormal movies. How do I know this? Because, quite simply, when someone says "There's something moving over there!" you look in that direction, whether you are holding a camera, or not. Not in this flick! Here, when that call goes out (as it does frequently) the cameras more often than not focus on the expressions of the watchers, and not the event itself. This is total nonsense. It's counter-intuitive and makes the movie look even more amateurish and fake than it is.
The script is also rather tedious. When they aren't running with the expected shaky-cam scenes, they are clinging to a boat whilst something under the water attacks them. The movie's action sequences are mostly one or other of these two staples, interspersed with the aforementioned Ghost Hunters facial shots to show how frightened everyone is.
At one point, they put a camera on a baby dinosaur to see where it goes. It goes down a hole in a riverbank. I kept expecting the obvious story line to be that, on the other side, the camera'd up dino sees the girl who got attacked first. Not dead, but badly wounded. It could have even been her friend, bringing her food to keep her alive. That would have given them an actual reason to go into the hole. I know, its a bit cliché... a rescue. But it would have been so much better than what did get them into the hole. Basically, they simply get sucked into the hole by the river. Remember my comments about lack of imagination?
Whilst I'm pulling this apart, take a good long look at the poster for this movie. The one with the people crossing a ravine on a fallen log, a la King Kong. That scene does not exist in the movie. Now, I do appreciate that posters don't have to be 100% accurate. They are meant to convey a feeling for the movie. Well, you know what Dino Project's poster conveyed to me? Imagination. Sadly, the movie doesn't have any of its own, so the poster remains about the most interesting thing about it.
I could go on. The kid has cameras that pick up sound from dozens of yards away and they have a transmission range that varies depending on the requirements of the story. Despite being rugged, able to cope with all variations of light intensity and even work underwater, the cameras mysteriously fail at any moment the movie would otherwise have had to spend money on special effects. It's like the cameras passed out with all the excitement going on and come around after it was over. It's a cheap way of not showing what is going on because you can't afford it. Also, very much overused, like the rocking boat and running scenes.
This is a movie that tried to be serious when it shouldn't have. A movie aimed at smaller kids, but with enough scares to not be really suitable for them. Teens then? No, not really. Whilst there is teen angst here, I kind of think most teens would find this a bit ridiculous and boring, to be honest. Adults? No, because we (well, some of us) have enough life experience to see the 'stupid glue' holding the plot together.
SUMMARY: Lacking imagination, poor acting, dull plot, characters that you have no empathy for. Not one to see twice. No, seriously. I mean that.
Review by Rob_Taylor from the Internet Movie Database.