Dinosaurs may be gone, but they’ve been on screen for over a century, from movies like Brute force and Gertie the dinosaur in the 1910s paved the way. Creatures got a massive resurgence in popularity with Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece jurassic park, reviving the profitability of the dinosaurs. Countless memorable images have depicted the prehistoric creatures to some degree, with many becoming more beloved and entertaining moviegoers that moviegoers can’t get enough of. From heartwarming animated tales to adrenaline-pumping adventure films to live-action monster movie adaptations, the big screen has been home to some spectacular dinosaur creations.
Whether you’re in the mood to watch John Goodman and Rick Moranis help bring the famous Stone Age family The Flintstones to life, or embark on a heartbreaking adventure in the animated comedy The Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, there is bound to be a prehistoric image to satisfy your needs. With Jurassic World Dominion roaring in theaters gearing up to hit theaters this summer and the dinosaur craze is set to come back strong, what better way to prepare for its release than to gorge on fantastic movies that showcase dinosaurs in all their glory. Here are the best dinosaur movies that aren’t the jurassic park movies.
We are back! The story of a dinosaur
Based on the Hudson Talbott children’s book of the same name, the 1993 animated comedy adventure We are back! The story of a dinosaur tells the dazzling tale of a time-traveling scientist who travels back to prehistoric times and feeds four funny dinosaurs with a magic cereal that increases their intelligence; the anthropomorphized creatures land in modern New York City where they go on a series of hilarious adventures.
The heartwarming film features an impressive voice cast including John Goodman, Jay Leno and Martin Short, and should have capitalized on the dinosaur craze in pop culture after jurassic park came out six months early, but didn’t have much box office impact (despite Steven Spielberg producing both films). We are back! earned praise for its vocal performances and animation, brilliantly blending traditional and computer animation, but was largely overshadowed by the enormous jurassic park.
The Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary star in the 2009 animated adventure comedy The Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which takes place in a lost tropical world buried under the ice and once again focuses on three entertaining heroes: the woolly mammoth Manny, the ground sloth Sid and the saber-toothed tiger Diego. The friends attempt to rescue Sid after he is taken by a female Tyrannosaurus after stealing her eggs.
The third part of Ice Age film franchise, the hit picture was decided on as a “more hypothetical adventure” and added the element of dinosaurs and a secret world to the series, with Blue Sky Studios describing it “like finding the giant ape in King Kong or a Shangri-la in the middle of the snow. The Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs went on to have the highest-grossing opening for an animated film, and its success led to two more popular sequels in the franchise: 2012 Ice Age: Continental Drift and 2016 The Ice Age: Collision Course.
The land before time
Following the adventures of a group of young dinosaurs living in prehistoric times, the 1988 animated adventure drama The land before time centers on a “Longneck” named Little Foot who is orphaned when his mother is killed by a vicious Tyrannosaurus, and flees famine and trouble to seek out the Great Valley. On his inspiring journey, Little Foot encounters a group of mismatched dinosaurs who become his close companions and friends, who also wish to reunite with their families in the Sacred Valley.
Don Bluth’s animated film explores the issue of prejudice between different species and the hardships they endure, with Don Bluth having explained, “…we had another idea that none of these dinosaurs get along , they all hate each other. From birth, they are taught not to associate, it’s racism. The land before time received rave reviews for its stunning animation and engaging message, and went on to generate 13 direct-to-video sequels.
Based on the beloved 60s TV cartoon series, the 1994 family comedy The Flintstones brings the iconic Stone Age family and their pet dinosaur Dino to life, following well-meaning but dimwitted factory worker patriarch Fred Flintstone as he lends money to his neighbor and friend near Barney Rubble, so he could adopt a baby. After being promoted on the back of Barney’s favor, Fred finds himself embroiled in the schemes of his greedy boss.
John Goodman takes on the epic role of Fred Flintstone, beautifully capturing the essence of the character while starring alongside Elizabeth Perkins, Rick Moranis and Rosie O’Donnell; the veteran actor beat out other stars like John Candy, Chevy Chase and Bill Murray for the coveted role. Audiences and fans of the cartoon were congratulated The Flintstones for its faithfulness to its source material, visual effects, costume design and performances, and it went on to be a box office hit, eventually inspiring the 2000 prequel titled The Flintstones at Viva Rock Vegas.
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Adapted from the classic sci-fi novel by Jules Verne, the 2008 sci-fi action-adventure film Journey to the Center of the Earth depicts the harrowing quest of Professor Trevor Anderson, his nephew Sean and their guide Hannah as they become trapped on an expedition to Iceland and discover a mystical and dangerous lost world at the center of the earth. As the brave trio travel deeper and deeper inside the planet on their only escape route, they find themselves encountering strange places and wondrous creatures, including terrifying dinosaurs.
With Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson and Anita Briem, Journey to the Center of the Earth takes audiences on an incredible adventure, masterfully merging modern visuals and technology with the beloved old-school storyline and thrilling moviegoers in the process. Fraser is in all his charming, swaggering glory, with NewsBlaze proclaiming, “The playful strength of Brendan Fraser’s personality rules, 3D or not 3D, one of the few funny guys who could catch a dinosaur’s attention in mode assault, in the center of the earth or anywhere else on the planet.
Walt Disney’s jaw-dropping 2000 animated film live-action and by computer Dinosaur tells the story of a young orphan Iguanodon who is raised by a family of lemurs on a tropical island and must embark on an arduous trek to sanctuary after a devastating meteor shower destroys his family home. With a budget of $127.5 million, Disney’s picture would have been the most expensive computer-animated film at the time and became the fifth highest-grossing film of 2000, with $350 million in the world.
Dinosaur received praise for its beautiful opening sequence and outstanding animation, but was ultimately criticized for its lack of originality and similarities to The land before time; nevertheless, the animated film led to numerous exhibitions and a video game and was a smash hit with the release of a home video in 2001.
Famous Peter Jackson directed the 2005 epic adventure monster movie King Kong, which is set in 1933 and centers on an ambitious filmmaker who coerces his cast and crew to travel to the mysterious Skull Island to create their image. On their journey, the group encounter frightening prehistoric creatures living on the island as well as the legendary massive gorilla known as Kong, whom they capture and bring to New York.
In the cinematic marvel, Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody and Jack Black headline the gripping film, and in one heartbreaking scene, their characters narrowly avoid a dinosaur rush; an epic confrontation takes place between Kong and two T. rexes, with the giant gorilla protecting Ann Darrow from Watts. King Kong won three Oscars and grossed over $500 million, acclaimed for its stunning special effects, direction and dynamite performances.
The good dinosaur
2015 Disney and Pixar animated adventure film The good dinosaur wonderfully explores an alternate history where non-avian dinosaurs never died out, and focuses on a young and sheepish Apatosaurus named Arlo who makes an unlikely human friend on his quest to return home after being swept downstream by a rainstorm. The studios and director Peter Sohn wanted to find out what dinosaurs would represent in the President’s day, with filmmaker Bob Peterson revealing, “It’s time to make a movie where you get to know the dinosaur and get to be with a dinosaur.”
The good dinosaur features nature as the antagonist to main character Arlo and pays homage to the western genre and its themes, character development, and beautiful North American landscapes. Despite a lackluster box office performance, the animated film received rave reviews from critics, with the Los Angeles Times describing it as “antique and unexpected as well as homiletic, filled with subversive elements, goofy creatures and some of the most beautiful landscapes ever seen in a computer-animated film.
Best Animated Movies of the 90s, Ranked
About the Author