In 1988 the original Land Before Time animated feature enjoyed moderate success at the box office. This is the 12th direct to video sequel in what Universal describes as a billion dollar franchise. A lot has changed since the original film. None of the voice actors from the feature remain. The animation is really Saturday morning cartoon quality and has none of the detail work that Don Bluth gave to the first film. It seems these little gems have been coming out about once a year since around 1994.
In this 13th story our little dino friends meet a new group of dinosaurs called yellow bellies. They appear to sport feather like features and, of course, bright yellow bellies. They have the voices of Cuba Gooding Jr, and Sandra Oh. These critters are not unlike modern ostriches and have the mythical habit of putting their heads in the sand when danger is around. This rather annoying habit manages to camouflage the zany creatures. “Stick out your tush. Look like a bush”. Our dino friends worry for their safety and attempt to impart their famous “wisdoms” on them. When the wisdoms don’t seem to be taking very well they decide to join the yellow bellies as they seek out the relative safety of the heard. “Stay in a group” is one of these clever little wisdoms that your own young tykes will soon be repeating over and over again. The moral of the story seems to be that different cultures have their own “wisdoms”, and I’m sure there’s a lesson about tolerance in there somewhere.
From what I can tell there isn’t anything here to set this tale apart from the 12 others. There appear to be a handful of mercifully short songs throughout. For the most part it’s likely harmless enough entertainment for the kiddies.
You won’t even notice the Dolby Digital 5.1 track. There appears to be almost no use at all of the surrounds for a wide mix. Dialog and a few songs are all that matter, and the front channels carry them off just fine. Again, the target audience doesn’t know surrounds from mono; you shouldn’t hear any complaints about this very average mix.
Bonus Episode – The
Sing-a-long: You can play some Land Before Time song segments, and the kids can follow the lyrics to sing along. Trust me, they’ll end up watching the thing enough times they won’t need this feature to learn the lyrics.