With 14 animated films – and counting – in ‘The Land Before Time’ film series, I have challenged myself to watch the entire collection, retrospectively. They were my favourite films when I was younger and feel it would be interesting to see how they have altered in ,y perspective as an adult film enthusiast.
I will continue to watch these films, given a short summary of how I feel they worked or didn’t.
The first two are outlined below:
The Land Before Time (1988, Don Bluth)
After leaving Disney for a darker style of animation storytelling, Don Bluth manages to present a different vision to what is deemed kid friendly filmmaking.
A plot that explores the emotional hurt of family loss, and the fear of finding your way, ‘The Land Before Time’ effectively manages to present the struggle of the films main character, Littlefoot as he searches for the epitome of peace in the films perilous landscape. Discovering his own strength, and finding friends along the way the young character delivers the films lighter moments – a counter balance to the bleak undertone that Bluth implores.
Made for children, but carrying enough substance to entertain adults and fans of the genre, ‘TLBT’ is an entertaining watch that can be shared amongst family groups. The voice acting carries the personas of each character effectively – and the harsh reality of the real life tragedy hitting the young voice actors – gives the film a more meaningful existence.
Spielberg will later develop other animations with his work in Dreamwork’s, however the importance of Bluth in the directors style of storytelling is apparent throughout this breakout film.
Acting – 3
Direction – 3
Special Effects – 3
Retrospect – 3
Overall – 3
The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure (1994, Roy Allen Smith)
Littlefoot and friends return in the much more younger aimed sequel to Don Bluth’s original. Not interested in the exploration of loss or danger, the film gives a friendlier and less rewarding plot line – with interest higher in given young children an hour of entertainment.
With a disney-esc style and musical numbers, the film is different in almost every aspect to the previous entry in the series – a different style continued in the latter films no doubt. With a plot that is made to be simpler, and a moral message come its close, ‘LBT2’ is a worthwhile film to watch with young children but may detract the core audience of the first film.
The voice actors – with the majority new to the franchise – give a good performance with their respective role but the dialogue is less refined than other animation films produced around the same time. Lacking the production of a cinematic release, the film feels lower quality throughout – but one that is still watchable and in some cases enjoyable.
The inclusion of two antagonistic ‘egg stealers’ gives the characters a conflict to resolve and the addition of a ‘sharp tooth’ to the group explores a new dynamic for the five main leads.
The musical numbers, although fun during their time onscreen, never linger long in the mind, with ‘Eggs’ as the most interesting to listen too out of the many that feature.
Its just a shame to find the films dumbed down nature as the core aspect of the film.
Plot – 3
Acting – 2
Direction – 2
Special Effects – 2
Retrospect – 1