Case Number 14574

DINOSAUR KING: THE ADVENTURE BEINGS

Shout! Factory // 2007 // 120 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // September 23rd, 2008

The Charge

These Fossils are Colossal!

Opening Statement

Dinosaur King: The Adventure Begins sees Sega moving in for a slice of Nintendo's Pokemon pie. Sure, it replaces cute monsters with gigantic dinosaurs, but Dinosaur King still plays by the same rules as its more famous forerunner, complete with rival teams and an overabundance of advertising.

Facts of the Case

While investigating the site of a recent meteor strike, the D-Team -- Max, Rex, and Zoe -- comes across a set of mysterious stones and cards that, when put together, conjure up real-life dinosaurs. Better yet, through the use of additional "move" cards, the dinosaurs can be entered into ferocious battles with each other.

But when more cards begin turning up, the D-Team find themselves in competition with the villainous Alpha Gang, a dastardly group working for Dr Z., a megalomaniac who plans to enslave all dinosaurs in his attempt to conquer the world.

Dinosaur King: The Adventure Begins contains the first five episodes of Dinosaur King.

* "Prehistory in the Making"
Max, Rex, and Zoe, a.k.a. the D-Team, discover three palm-sized stones and a set of cards at a meteor crash site. When Max rubs one of the stones with a card, he unexpectedly summons a Triceratops. Upon learning that the giant beast can be transformed into a much smaller, cuter creature, Max decides to name him Chomp and take him home.

* "Battle at the Pyramids"
Rex and Zoe are ecstatic to find cards that bear the same symbols as their stones, and before long they too have their own dinosaurs. But when a Spinosaurus card is discovered in Egypt, the D-Team must race to retrieve it before the Alpha Gang, aided by their T-Rex, gets its hands on it.

* "Tanks a Lot!"
Max's father, a paleontologist, is called to London when a Saichania is discovered roaming the floors of a museum. Unbeknownst to Max's father, the Alpha Gang is already aware of the Saichania and is on the hunt.

* "Bungle in the Jungle"
During a trip to the Amazon rainforest, where they hope to locate a Saltasaurus, the D-Team is separated when Chomp wanders off, forcing Max to search for him. While the group is temporarily outnumbered, the Alpha Gang prepares to launch an attack on Rex and Zoe. Can Max find Chomp in time to save his friends?

* "Rubble Trouble"
Cracks begin to appear in the D-Team when Rex's ammonite is broken. Things fail to improve when the group is called to China, following reports of a dinosaur sighting. But when Zoe's life is put at risk during a cave-in, the friends must put their differences behind them.

The Evidence

Dinosaur King: The Adventure Begins isn't the first animated series devised to sell a line of toys; it's just one of the more blatant I've come across. From the card game that spawned it, to the numerous gadgets the kids sport in the show (available at all good toy stores), Dinosaur King doesn't miss a trick to ram its merchandise down your throat.

Lacking any originality, either in its premise or characters, Dinosaur King has little to recommend it. Youngsters will find they can get their kicks from more substantial cartoons, such as Ben 10, while the show lacks the wit to keep adults interested, leaving the show's appeal open to debate.

Though the super-streamlined storytelling allows for frequent dino-battles, it also results in some baffling lapses of logic. Why, for example, is the D-Team, which consists of three pre-teens, suddenly entrusted with traveling the world on a mission to recover the missing dinosaur cards? Similarly, what the hell is Max's mom smoking to even for a second think that Chomp is a dog? Don't get me wrong, I get that it's a cartoon and anything can happen, but at least give a reason for what's going on. But then, lengthy exposition would only get in the way of the toy and videogame advertisements, wouldn't it?

Each of the five episodes on the disc follows the same basic formula: a dinosaur is discovered, and the D-Team must beat the Alpha Gang to it. That's it; there is no hidden depth to Dinosaur King. This repetitiveness makes even the relatively short 20-minute running time of each episode a real slog. There are only so many times you can watch the Alpha Gang swoop in to steal a dino-card at the last minute, or yawn as a T-Rex get its ass handed to it by a Triceratops for the umpteenth time. While similar shows, such as Medabots, overcame such pitfalls with inventive characters and smart-ass humor, Dinosaur King just keeps plugging away, flogging its wares with nary a care for producing a quality show.

Shout! Factory brings Dinosaur King to DVD on a somewhat lacking disc. An extremely short featurette on the Triceratops is the only real extra on the disc. To count the "Sneak Peak" as an extra would be pushing it a little. The feature, much like Dinosaur King itself, is merely an advertisement for the forthcoming videogame. Of most interest to fans of the show, if such a creature exists, is the "Exclusive Trading Card," included in the pack.

On the plus side the 1.33:1 full-screen transfer isn't bad at all. Colors are pretty strong, while the image stays clear and sharp. The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is functional rather than showy.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Dinosaur King employs both traditional 2D animation and 3D CGI. In a clever move, that helps the two styles gel, the CGI dinosaurs are presented using the cel-shading technique (also known as 'toon shading). The same method has been used in anime such as Appleseed and videogames like Jet Set Radio. Used here, the style helps give the show's visuals a much-needed boost.

Though I've been quite critical of the show, there is fun to be had with it. The dino-battles are entertaining, for a while at least, and, very occasionally, the attempts at humor hit the mark.

Closing Statement

Unfortunately with Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! treading very similar ground before it, the timing is all wrong for Dinosaur King. Ultimately it all feels a bit stale and little more than an advertisement for the toy line.

The Verdict

Guilty. This turkey is extinct.

Review content copyright © 2008 Paul Pritchard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 80
Audio: 78
Extras: 10
Acting: 70
Story: 60
Judgment: 60

Perp Profile
Studio: Shout! Factory
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Behind the Roar Triceratops
* A Sneak Peak at Dinosaur King from Sega
* An Exclusive Dinosaur King Trading Card

Accomplices
* Official Site
http://www.4kids.tv/show/dinoking