With Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom about to his screens, we’re getting in the mood by throwing a spotlight on some of the best movies that aren’t part of the JP/JW franchise. But which feature dinosaurs in some way, shape or form. The following being 10 of the best.
10. The Lost World (1925)
We’re kicking off with the first true dinosaur movie in the shape of this silent adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic novel. The story follows an expedition to a plateau in Venezuela where dinosaurs still roam the earth. Meaning a group of intrepid explorers witness all manner of prehistoric creatures doing battle with each other, from Allosaurus and Pteranodon to Triceratops and Brontosaurus. The latter making it to London and swimming up the Thames during the film’s climax. All of this is brought to life by movie legend Willis O’Brien using what in 1925 was state-of-the-art stop-motion animation. In 1998 The Lost World was deemed “culturally significant” by the Library of Congress, and selected for preservation by the United States National Film Registry.
9. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)
While it might not be an all-time classic, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs makes this list because it’s the funniest animated film set in prehistoric times. Largely due to a storyline that features Sid — voiced by John Leguizamo — adopting three abandoned eggs, only to have them hatch into baby Tyrannosaurus rex. Chaos ensues, especially when Mummy T-rex shows up, in search of her missing dino-babies. An Ankylosaurus, Baryonyx, and Harpactognathus also appear, while it became the second biggest animated film of all-time, earning nearly $900m at the global box office.
8. One Million Years BC (1966)
One Million Years BC is best-known for Raquel Welch and her fur bikini. But that isn’t the reason we’re including it on our list. Rather, this campy 1966 effort — in which cavemen and dinosaurs somehow live side-by-side — makes the cut thanks to the work of stop-motion genius Ray Harryhausen. The film is filled with his marvellous prehistoric creations, the highlight being a beautifully choreographed battle between a Ceratosaurus and a Triceratops. Harryhausen also sprinkled his stop-motion magic on The Valley of Gwangi three years later, a bizarre film about dinosaurs living together in a remote part of Mexico at the start of the 20th Century. Which definitely doesn’t make this list.
7. Dinosaur (2000)
What Dinosaur lacks in engaging story it more than makes up for with ground-breaking visuals. Which is a good thing as this computer-animated movie cost a whopping $127m to make, turning it into the most expensive film of 2000. But it’s all up there onscreen, with the prehistoric creatures looking photo-real, and the backgrounds actually photo-real, the filmmakers shooting the movie’s environments on location. The story concerns an orphaned Iguanodon being brought up by a conspiracy of lemurs (yes, that is the collective term) and fighting for survival when a meteor shower hits.
6. The Land Before Time (1988)
This cute cartoon has the narrative drive that Dinosaur lacks. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, and directed by former Disney animator Don Bluth, The Land Before Time concerns an orphaned Apatosaurus called Littlefoot who — during a terrible famine — goes looking for the ‘Great Valley’ where food is said to be plentiful. Along the way, he befriends a Triceratops, a Stegosaurus, a Saurolophous, and a Pteranodon, which makes for an interesting story in which the differing species of dinosaur have to put aside their differences and prejudices to survive. While it all builds towards a dramatic climax that features the T-rex that killed Littlefoot’s mother. Land Before Time was a huge success, and has spawned a whopping 13 direct-to-video sequels.
5. The Good Dinosaur (2015)
The Good Dinosaur is a beautiful story, well-told. So while it might not be a classic in terms of Pixar movies — being the studio’s lowest grossing film when it hit screens in 2015 — it’s still filled with lovable characters, smart dialogue, and stunning visuals. The film takes place in a world where dinosaurs never became extinct, and focusses on the friendship that forms between a young Apatosaurus named Arlo, and a little caveboy called Spot. There are shades of The Jungle Book peppered throughout The Good Dinosaur, particularly during the film’s final few scenes. While there are also some terrific action sequences. Ultimately though, while most Pixar movies work for the whole family, this one is very definitely for kids.
4. King Kong (2005)
Peter Jackson’s 2005 version of King Kong is the most spectacular movie on the list, with the scenes on Skull Island simply mind-blowing. Though it’s a bit of a cheat including the film here, as the creatures onscreen are actually evolved from dinosaurs. So the film features Venatosaurus — descended from the Dromaeosaurid — chasing a herd of Brontosaurus. And King Kong doing battle with three Vastatosaurus rex, which are T-rex, only MUCH bigger. That fight is a true crowd-pleaser, ending with Kong ripping his foe’s mouth apart before beating his chest in celebration. And if you want more evolved dinosaur/monster action, check out the brilliant Kong: Skull Island.
3. Toy Story (1995)
One of the greatest movies of all-time stars the most lovable dinosaur in film history. Voiced by Wallace Shawn, Rex suffers from bad nerves as well as insecurities over his tiny roar. He isn’t the smartest toy in the box, hates confrontation, and is scared of other dinosaurs. But his confidence grows over the course of the movie, so where at the start he is scared of being replaced by another prehistoric play-thing, by the end of Toy Story he’s hoping a leaf-eating dinosaur shows up so he has someone to hang with.
2. Fantasia (1940)
Fantasia features the most beautiful dinosaur story ever committed to film. The third animated flick from Walt Disney Productions, it’s an unconventional feature, consisting of eight experimental shorts that have little in the way of dialogue, and rather play out to famous pieces of classical music. The Rite of Spring appears midway through proceedings, using Igor Stravinsky’s ballet and impressive visuals to chart earth’s beginnings, kicking off with the creation of the planet, and building towards the rise and fall of the dinosaurs. The result is still jaw-dropping — and far from Disney cute — portraying the harsh realities of nature in believably brutal fashion.
1. King Kong (1933)
The original — and best — version of King Kong was made in 1933, but its power hasn’t diminished over the decades. The Beauty and the Beast-style love story between Kong and Ann Darrow still tugs on the heart-strings in unexpected ways. But the dinosaur scenes on Skull Island are just as memorable. Stunning stop-motion animation — by the aforementioned Willis O’Brien and his assistant Buzz Gibson — plus miniatures, rear-projection and matte paintings were used to bring Stegosaurus, Brontosaurus and Pteranodon to life. While the battle between Kong and the Tyrannosaurus rex took weeks to shoot, and is still one of the greatest brawls in movie history. The film featured the most memorable depiction of dinosaurs onscreen until Jurassic Park changed everything with its use of computer-generated imagery in 1993. But there’s still something magical about how these creatures look, some 80 years on.