Judge Paul Pritchard found this DVD a real dino-bore.
These Fossils are Colossal!
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"
• "Battle at the Pyramids"
• "Tanks a Lot!"
• "Bungle in the Jungle"
• "Rubble Trouble"
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.
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.
Guilty. This turkey is extinct.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
• Behind the Roar Triceratops
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