Walking With Dinosaurs: The Cinematic Experience Production Companies: Fossil Record Pictures (CGI animals), Silvertree Studios (live-action backgrounds)
Director: Richard Diamond*
Release Date: Friday, May 10th, Y8
Rating: PG (some scary natural violence)
Theater Count: 1,977
Runtime: 120 minutes
Narrator: Morgan Freeman
The film starts with a scene of a British forest, with the narrator explaining that this location, just like the rest of the world, was once inhabited by dinosaurs. As the narrator describes this, the background begins to fade, with the traces of humanity-- roads, telephone wires, and buildings-- disappear. The same forest is shown in the late Jurassic, 165 million years ago, and zooms in on a mound of soil and leaves on the ground. The mound of debris, the narrator explains, is the nest of a Cetiosaurus, a giant sauropod dinosaur. As the ground begins to move, four juvenile Cetiosaurus--or "sauropodlets"-- dig there way out of the ground, each of them no bigger than a kitten. As they do, they attract the attention of an immature Eustreptospondylus, a fifteen-foot predatory dinosaur. Three of the sauropodlets manage to flee, but the fourth is caught and eaten by the ten-foot-long predator.
We cut to a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea, where a male Ramphorhynchus pterosaur is preening himself and preparing to migrate north for the mating season. He takes off, accompanied by two other males. There follows a detour from the main plot as the male pterosaur makes his way to the same island where the Cetiosaurus lives. The Ramphorhynchus spot a school of fish, and dive to catch them. The narrator comments on how, rather than merely skimming the surface of the water as they were once believed to, these pterosaurs dive after their prey in its own element. One Ramphorhynchus, however, is suddenly snapped up by a Liopleurodon* while diving for fish. The Liopleurodon is a female, and she, too is ready to mate. A male approaches her, and the two of them curiously circle around each other, poking and prodding each other with their snouts. The female is then shown touching her belly to that of the male, with her flippers overlapping his.
The creche of sauropodlets have grown, and all of them are now about the size of a sheep. They still remain together for safety, but predators are not the only danger they face. As the creche forages along the edge of a river, they encounter a Lexovisaurus, a member of the stegosaur family with a pair of large spikes protruding from its shoulder. The Lexovisaurus is, as the narrator remarks, "not particularly bright", and begins to swing its spiked tail in anger at the sight of intruders. Before the sauropodlets can flee, a full-grown Eustreptospondylus appears. It ignores the sauropodlets, and instead confronts the Lexovisaurus. The Eustreptospondylus dodges a swipe of the Lexovisaurus's thagomizer, and rushes at the stegosaur head-on. The Lexovisaurus simply lowers its head, presenting its massive shoulder spikes to its attacker. The Eustreptospondylus bites down on one of the shoulder spikes, and the Lexovisaurus desperately tries to shake it off. The sauropodlets flee into the deeper forest. The next day, the same scene is shown, and there is no sign of either dinosaur, save for a broken-off piece of the Lexovisaurus' shoulder spike.
Months pass, and the Liopleurodon female is ready to give birth. She ascends to the surface of the water, and as she does, her five-foot-long baby emerges from her cloaca. She gently nudges her newborn to the surface, where it takes its first gulp of air. However, she will provide no care for him beyond this-- he is able to fend for himself immediately after being born. Meanwhile, the Ramphorhynchus are also mating, and the particular male who we last followed has found a position for himself in the middle of a giant mating group, or lek, of male pterosaurs. When a female arrives, they mate briefly, and then the female flies off to lay her eggs on her own. For the moment, it seems as though things are perfect. But these good times are about to come to an end.
A massive hurricane sweeps the island, leveling forests and destroying delicate shallow sea environments. Two of the remaining young Cetiosaurus are killed in the storm, and when the skies clear a further casualty is revealed-- the female Liopleurodon. She has washed up on the shore, and her body is being picked over by scavenging Ramphorhynchus and Eustreptospondylus. The narrator remarks that, although she is dead, she was a successful individual: her baby is still alive, and she has given birth to many young over the course of her life.
The movie cuts to ten years later. The last surviving Cetiosaurus is now a twenty-foot-long young adult, and has found a herd of his own to join. As he does, he is being watched by a Eustreptospondylus. The predator attacks him, and the young Cetiosaurus attempts to scare it away by thrashing his tail and rearing onto his hind legs. The predator, however, is not repelled, and continues its attack, only to be knocked off its feet by the tail of a much larger, fully grown Cetiosaurus. The young male joins the adult’s herd, and the camera gradually zooms out on the Cetiosaurus grazing, while the Ramphorhynchus flies overhead.
*shown at its correct 21-foot size, not 80 feet as in the original series.