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(3.5 stars) "Dino King 3D: An Amazing Adventure" is an exciting and enjoyable dinosaur film for the family
on July 4, 2013
In recent years, Korea is starting to attract new audiences internationally to its animation, manwa (Korean comics) and its pop culture, may it be music, film or dramas continue to have a large following worldwide.
But one area that Korea is typically not known for worldwide is its own all-CG animated films. In 2012, Dream Search C&C, Inc., EBS and Olive Studio, Inc.announced their animated film "Speckles the Tarbosaurus" which opened in theaters in Korea in January 2006. Originally based on a three-part documentary series that aired back in 2008, the series received high ratings for Korea's EBS (Educational Broadcasting System) and so, a reworking of the film took place and in three years, a CG animated film was created.
Based on dinosaurs found in the Korean peninsula, the film is set during the early Cretaceous period of the dinosaurs and focuses on a Tarbosaurus known as Speckles. The film is narrated by Speckles.
The Korean CG animated film using the title name "Dino King 3D: An Amazing Adventure" will be released on Blu-ray 3D/2D in June 2013 courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.
"Dino King 3D" begins with a baby Tarbosaurus named Speckles, who was just born and as he grows up, he wants to hunt like his mother, big brother and twin sisters. He learns how his brother is a chaser that leads the pray right towards his twin sisters and then his mother killing the prey in order to feed the family.
But despite being one of the feared carnivorous dinosaurs, there are many threats that can easily hurt young Speckles.
But one day as Speckles feels that he can hunt with the family, they are unaware that the Tyrannosaurus Rex known as "One-Eye" is in the area, look for a new place to live and feed.
As the family are about to hunt down a few dinosaurs, they suddenly see a large stampede of dinosaurs starting to run towards them and in the mayhem, Speckles is caught. They learn that all are running away from One-Eye.
As Speckles family try to rescue him, all dinosaurs are seen running towards a cliff area where many of them are unable to control themselves and fall off the cliff or are hit by other dinosaurs who are unable to control and stop themselves. Knowing they need to defend Speckles, the family does its best to fight against One-Eye but each of the siblings are killed and fall over the cliff area. Speckles mother tries to fight back but One-Eye is too powerful and thrown over the cliff.
Speckles is now alone without a family and must fend for himself. Speckles learns that in order to survive, he must try to hunt down his own food immediately or go after the leftovers left behind by One-Eye.
And as Speckles turns five years old, he is still too young to defend himself or fight but he has managed to live this long. One day, he sees One-Eye going after another Tarbosaurus which he names "Blue Eyes" and together, both are just happy to be friends and help each other.
And as both grow up together and are 20-years-old, they become an awesome team when it comes to hunting. Despite having left an area without One-Eye around, peace is disrupted when One-Eye goes to search for another feeding ground. And while both Speckles and Blue Eyes became a couple during the mating season and are expecting babies, Speckles must do all he can to protect his young babies from One-Eye and other threats, especially the pesky velociraptors.
But what Speckles is not prepared for is another type of threat to the dinosaurs...nature.
Will Speckles be able to support and protect his family?
"Dino King 3D: An Amazing Adventure" is presented in 3D and 2D (both versions are on one single Blu-ray disc). First, let's discuss the 2D of the film. When it comes to dinosaur films, "Dino King 3D" looks amazing when it comes to textures and details in HD. While the backgrounds appear to use real nature backgrounds, sometimes it features rocks that don't appear as well-detailed as the dinosaurs. But in terms of CG animation, the textures, shading and movements of the dinosaurs are well-done. You can see muscle structure being utilized amongst the dinosaurs and I was very pleased with how the film looked.
As for the 3D, "Dino King 3D: An Amazing Adventure" is more depth-based 3D and for the portrayal of space and distance, the film looks good when it comes to that aspect of 3D. But for those hoping to see the objects coming out at you, aside from dinosaur heads and volcanic activity, the 3D for this film is more depth-based.
"Dino King 3D: An Amazing Adventure" is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. It's important to note that the original Korean dialogue is NOT included with this Blu-ray release. But the ambiance of the film is magnificent as you can hear dinosaurs, the stomping of dinosaurs on the ground via LFE and use of panning sound through the surround channels.
Narration in English is crystal clear and lossless soundtrack is not mega immersive as I would have hoped but overall, the soundtrack is very good.
There are no special features but a trailer.
"Dino King 3D: An Amazing Adventure" comes with a lenticular slipcover.
As a father who is fascinated by dinosaurs and has a child who seems to have memorized to pronounce names of dinosaurs, "Dino King 3D: An Amazing Adventure" was a fascinating family film.
While we have seen animated films about displaced young characters, in the case of "Dino King 3D" which seemed like a kiddy film with it's initial introduction of Speckles at a young age, the film immediately becomes more serious in tone as Speckles becomes alone, having to fend for himself but then growing older and having to protect his family from being eaten or killed.
But the story is not exactly jovial as dinosaurs were in constant threat from other predators and dinosaurs hunted each other and for baby dinosaurs, they were constantly targeted. So, this is not an animated film that tries to show hope for a family. This is not a film that ends with a Disney ending of everyone is happy, because the fact is that characters die in this film. It may be too scary for children as these are not like Disney animated films where animals find a way to thrive and be happy.
Poor Speckles wants to protect his family but it's not easy when you have a vicious T-Rex and other dinosaurs nearby and then there is nature that adds to the problems for the dinosaurs.
But if your child is over 5-years-old, I believe the child can watch this animated film. There is no blood, but you will see a T-Rex chomping the necks of other dinosaurs or other dinosaurs being killed someway, somehow.
We see how volcano's led to the death of many dinosaurs (in this case, in a region of Korea) which destroyed their water and habitat and forced other dinosaurs to travel long distances to find a new home.
While I have watched dinosaur documentaries such as BBC's excellent "Walking with Dinosaurs", "Dino King 3D" is fascinating because its inclusion of many dinosaurs and getting that narration through Speckles of various dinosaurs that lived during that era in the land which eventually would become Korea.
I have since learned that many fossilized dinosaurs were found across the South Korean coast and many fossilized dinosaur eggs and footprints from the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era were found in the seacoast of South Korea. Which the animated film does go into how many dinosaurs were possibly led to the coast near the ocean area. With dinosaur museums in various areas of South Korea, there also seems to be fossils instead of eggs or footprints now being found in the era which have been important in filling the missing 20-million-year gap in the fossil record in regards to the origin of dinosaurs in Asia and their first appearance in North America.
The film is educational when it comes to knowing the names of dinosaurs. I never heard of Tarbosaurus and didn't know that it looks similar to a T-Rex. After doing research, I've learned that the Tarbosaurus is the Asian version of a T-Rex and they are close cousins. Both were killer dinosaurs, had powerful jaws and teeth, big back legs and tiny arms, while Tarbosaurus had smaller arms than a T-Rex. But Tarbosaurus were found in rock formations in Mongolia, while T-Rex were generally found in North America.
Both were the top of the food chain but very interesting to see both featured prominently in the film.
What is also interesting is the portrayal of a Velociraptor. Like most people, my knowledge of the dinosaur was through the "Jurassic Park" films. But since then, I have read that these dinosaurs look like big chickens and are small. The animated film does portray them that way, with feathers. But also to read that Velociraptors were mound in Mongolia, not North America. There is one thing that this film does show and not really known as fact and debated today is if Velociraptor hunt in packs. This film does show that, as carnivorous creatures going after the sick and dead.
But there are other dinosaurs that are mentioned that I have never heard about, so it was good to learn about them through this animated film.
As for the Blu-ray release, the animation and textures of the dinosaurs are fantastic! Backgrounds were OK and the film could have been much more immersive. While the 2D version of the film looked great, the 3D was OK and more depth-based than anything. Unfortunately, there are no special features and it's a shame because if the 2008 three-part documentary was included, it would have made "Dino King 3D" a magnificent release.
Overall, "Dino King 3D: An Amazing Adventure" is an exciting and enjoyable dinosaur family film and also one that probably is the better looking CG-animated film about dinosaurs at this current time. Me and my 10-year-old son absolutely enjoyed this film but at the same time, I know this Blu-ray release could have been better.
"Dino King 3D: An Amazing Adventure" is a CG animated film about dinosaurs worth watching!