MCA Home Video, the video-releasing arm of Universal Pictures, inaugurated its own animation studio with this, their first direct-to-tape cartoon feature, a follow-up to 1988's splendidly evocative dinosaur cartoon THE LAND BEFORE TIME. But gone are the predecessor's producer Steven
Spielberg and animator Don Bluth, and the new installment doesn't add much to the premise aside from best-forgotten musical numbers.
When last seen, young brontosaurus Littlefoot, teensy triceratops Cera, pint-sized pterosaur Petrie, and sluggish whatever-he-is Rooter had escaped extinction by reaching the fertile Great Valley, where plant food is abundant and predators are few. But those few include two oviraptors, Ozzie and
Strut, who steal an egg from the family nest of Littlefoot's swamp-dwelling pal Ducky. The juveniles, eager to show their families how responsible they are, chase the marauders in a lengthy pursuit that isn't too thrilling--one egg out of many just can't evoke much jeopardy. The egg is eventually
returned, but on the outskirts of the Great Valley, Littlefoot and friends discover another one and bring it back. When it hatches--one can see this coming miles away--out pops a "sharptooth," a baby T-rex, the most hated and feared of carnivores. Nonetheless, Littlefoot tries to tame tiny
Chompers, who proves handy in spooking the vengeful Ozzie and Strut. Then two full-grown sharptooths invade the Valley. Adult herbivores fight them with brute strength, but Littlefoot and the gang win the battle with clever booby-traps that stun the towering terrors. It turns out the monsters are
Chompers's parents--one can see this coming continents away--and the three leave the Great Valley reunited, as inhabitants seal the entrance with boulders.
Ozzie and Strut are two boring bad guys, incongruously equipped with British accents for no other reason than the Hollywood tradition of giving heavies British accents. Though small kids may be charmed by the toddler-talk dialogue (Petrie: "My tummy talk too. It say feed me"), older viewers will
have to content themselves with a fleeting but funny reference to BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. "Sesame Street"-style songs by, of all people, the Roches hold no appeal. Only with the T-rex attack does the story take off. The ferocious, giant meat-eaters are grandly animated and probably the
one aspect of the film that would have held up beautifully on a theater screen. Everything else seems subtly but noticeably simplified from the Don Bluth original, in which magnificent primordial backgrounds aptly conveyed the twilight of the Age of Reptiles. THE GREAT VALLEY ADVENTURE, cheery and
green, feels like a routine series episode, and with reason: two further straight-to-video sequels were already announced when this title hit rental racks in time for Christmas 1994.
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: MCA Home Video, the video-releasing arm of Universal Pictures, inaugurated its own animation studio with this, their first direct-to-tape cartoon feature, a follow-up to 1988's splendidly evocative dinosaur cartoon THE LAND BEFORE TIME. But gone are the pr… (more)