HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Land Before Time: Journey of the Brave
HTS Overall Score:67
I’m honestly flabbergasted at the legs of “The Land Before Time” series. I was one of the original viewers as it was a babysitting tool when I was about 7 years old. Coming out in 1988 (yes I just dated myself), I would sit at my Aunt Nancy’s house and watch the old VHS over and over again before my mom would come and pick me up. For a 7 year old kid it was pretty scary. Littlefoot, Ducky, Spike, Petrie and Cera were all in mortal danger from the giant Sharp Tooth (T-rex) and I still remember watching with nervous attention even though I knew the outcome from seeing the movie a million times. 14 movies later (yes this is the 14th film in the franchise) the series is still going strong and entertaining kids all over the world. I haven’t seen a “Land Before Time” movie in at least 15 years, the last one being a vague memory in my mind as I was the babysitter this time. “Journey of the Brave” is entertaining for the younger generation, but for this old guy it just lost a little bit of its luster. I went and yanked up a digital copy of the original when it came out on Blu-ray so I had the old one to compare to afterwards, and I have to say that it just isn’t me growing up either.
Many moons have passed since Littlefoot and his band of dinosaur friends made their way to the great valley after their parents were wiped out (even though they still look the same age). Littlefoot (Felix Avitia) has been reunited with his father and the rest of the dinosaurs are safe and happy in the great valley. Littlefoot’s father, Bron (Scott Whyte) is the leader of a roving heard and comes back once a year to the great valley so that he can see his son. That day is once again upon them and Littlefoot is dancing with excitement. When his father’s herd arrives Bron is strangely missing. A strange little dinosaur called Wild Arms (Damon Wayans Jr.) tells the rest of the valley that a giant volcano had gone off near the heard and Bron had ushered everyone to safety, but not before being trapped by the ascending lava.
Going against the wishes of his grandfather (voiced by Barry Bostwick), Littlefoot goes off in search of his father, knowing that he MUST still be alive. As usual, it’s not a “Land Before Time” movie without the group, so that means Ducky (Aria Curzon), Cera (Anndi McAfee), Petrie (Jeff Bennett) and Spike (Rob Paulsen) are along for the ride. In typical fashion things get frustrating along the way with Cera and Littlefoot getting into an argument over who is right and who needs who. Separation ensues as Littlefoot heads out on his own and the rest of the group turn back to the great valley. Well, they say that you’re better as a group than alone, and Littlefoot once again learns this lesson as he gets trapped inside of a cave with pterodactyl named Etta (Reba McEntire). There he once again learns the necessity of teamwork. Similarly, Cera and the rest of the younglings remember that Littlefoot is their friend and race back to try and find him before its too late to save Bron.
“Journey of the Brave” is another in a long line of DTV sequels for the series, and it seems to have been stretched a bit thinner than the original. As I mentioned in my opening, I yanked out the digital copy for the first movie and gave it a watch for nostalgia’s sake. There is a distinct difference in the tension level of the first vs. the fourteenth film. Even today there is a level of strained relations between Cera and the rest, and the Sharp Tooth attack is visceral feels like there is actual danger for the dinosaurs. “Journey of the Brave” feels a little toned down and a bit tamer than it’s predecessor. I can’t say for sure how the other sequels fared, as I have seen them since the maybe the 2nd or 3rd sequel as a kid, but I would say this one has been toned down a bit and geared more towards casual children’s entertainment vs. the scary adventure story for kids the first one strived to be (actually I’ve noticed that a LOT in comparison to many of the old 80s and 90’s adventure cartoons that got away with a LOT more than they show today).
Rated G for General Audiences
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=64666[/img]Gone are the days of hand drawn 80’s animation, but for a CGI film with some hand drawn elements to it, the art actually looks quite good. Lines are smooth and clean and the colors are vibrant and warm. There’s not a whole ton of excess detail to rival something like Pixar or Disney, but there is enough detail in the simple animation to go around. Black levels are very strong and I couldn’t see much if any signs of any serious digital artifacting. The only thing that I can really complain about is sometimes the CGI animation for moving objects, like the tree used to free Bron’s leg, looks out of place amongst the rest of them with that overly obvious CGI look.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=64674[/img]The English 5.1 Dolby Digital track is satisfactory for the job. It’s a bit front heavy with a limited set of surround sounds to fill out the back end, but it does the job well for a low budget TV movie. Dialog is crisp and devoid of any imperfections. The surrounds do get some work, but mainly are there for the occasional sound to bleed through of for the 4 or 5 musical numbers during the film. LFE is actually rather surprising as it’s one of the first things to go in these types of films. Instead of anemic bass there is a nice heavy sound to the dinosaurs stomping across the valley, or the advancing lava rumbling over the mountain top.
• Sing-A-Long Songs
- “Today’s the Day”
- “Look For The Light”
- “Hot and Stinky”
- “Better off Alone”
Even without the same actors, the characters of Littlefoot, ducky, Cera, Spike and Petrie carry much the same tone and feel as their original counterparts. There’s a little less quality in the voice acting, but that’s not really a big deal since the first wasn’t some bastion of brilliance among a sea of crud if you know what I mean. It’s charming, slightly entertaining for me and certainly was a lot more entertaining for sub 10 year old nephews (who the film was really catering towards). If you have children who’ve kept up with the series than this should be an easy addition to the collection (although it is a Walmart only exclusive at the moment). If they haven’t watched much or any of the series then no worries, the plot is easy enough to grasp and it doesn’t require much knowledge of the original or any of the other sequels to enjoy. Recommended for the youngsters as harmless fun.
Starring: Damon Wayans Jr., Reba McEntire, Barry Bostwick
Directed By: Davis Doi
Written By: Elana Lesser, Cliff Ruby
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 87 Minutes
DVD Release Date: February 2nd, 2016
Recommendation: Good Rental
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