Directors: Marco Brambilla, George Miller
Starring: Tyron Leitso, Wentworth Miller, Katie Carr,
Treat Williams, Jeremy London, Tushka Bergen
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Running Time: 430 minutes
It seems that lavish television mini-series is a thing of the past, except for the occasional western or period miniseries on cable. As a kid I look forward to watching them, normally airing during the sweep months on February or May. Mill Creek Entertainment has recently released the three-part Dinotopia and the two-part Journey to the Center of the Earth in a 2 disc set. Both miniseries were produced by Hallmark Entertainment (now known as Sonar Entertainment).
Dinotopia is based on the children books by James Gurne. It aired on the Wonderful World of Disney in 2002 and later spawned a short-lived spin-off series. The miniseries drops the books' steampunk atmosphere and focuses on two half-brothers, Karl and David Scott, who finds themselves stranded on the strange land of Dinotopia after their plane crashes into the sea with their father. They meet a mysterious man, Cyrus Crabb, who leads them to the capital of Dinotopia, Waterfall City. David wants to try and learn the ways this new world, where as Karl just wants to find a way back home. They befriend Zippo (a Troodon) and a young woman, Marion. As Karl and David are assigned dinosaurs to bond with, their new home may become extinct.
Journey to the Center of the Earth is loosely based on the classic novel by Jules Verne and aired on USA in 1999. The plot is simple as it involves a rich woman, Alice Hastings, hiring Theodore Lytton and his nephew, Jonas, to travel to New Zealand to find her husband who had disappeared. Of course she joins the expedition as well as a stranger, McNiff. Their journey takes them to caves that lead them to the center of the earth, where there are oceans, natives, and giant reptiles.
I remember watching Dinotopia when it originally aired on television, but I barely recall what it was about, which is why I wanted to watch it on DVD. Despite a big budget, the special effects are shady at best and the acting is tolerable. The overall story is cute and I can see kids liking it more than adults. I was surprised that the DVD had an option to play each part individually as well as a play all option. I've never seen the 1999 version of Journey to the Center of the Earth, and it is not as bad as I thought it would be, despite the low-budget special effects. The reptiles looked like the Sleestak from Land of the Lost. The acting is decent, but the dialogue is cheesy. The characters and plot have been altered from the book, so I can see why Jules Verne's fans may not like this version. The DVD has only a play all option with no extras (no extras for Dinotopia either). Overall, I did enjoy watching both miniseries, despite their many flaws.
(I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review.)