The 9 Best Dinosaur Moments in Movies

Best Dinosaur Movie Moments

Dinosaurs. They are the prehistoric creatures that make (almost) every piece of media automatically better. From the obvious classics like Jurassic Park and The Lost World (1925), to those more forgotten dino flicks like We’re Back and The Land Before Time, these prehistoric beasts have left their claw marks all over cinema. And though some of their appearances have been better than others, dinosaurs never seem to lose their cool streak.

So with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom now in theaters, let’s take a look at some of the greatest moments (for various reasons) featuring Dinosaurs on the big screen. Some will be hilarious, while others filled with pure terror. So hold onto your butts – these are the best dinosaur moments in the movies.

The Opening Sequence of The Flintstones

Back in 1994, no one had a clue how Universal Studios was going to make a live-action Flintstones movie. Was it going to be faithful to the source material? Would it have the same fun and excitement as the animated cartoon series? It was anyone’s guess. But when the lights when down in the theater, and that famous “Yabba Dabba Doo” erupted from John Goodman’s mouth, a huge weight came off many viewer’s shoulders.

But the true brilliance isn’t as much from the human characters in this sequence, but the prehistoric creatures that reside within it. Thanks to the talented folks at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, Dino and the other pets of Bedrock come to life flawlessly. The CGI segments of these characters might not look as fresh as they did 24 years ago, but the practical puppets and animatronics  have so much personality within them and it is hard not to believe they aren’t living and breathing animals.

Sure, by the end of the movie, maybe The Flintstones wasn’t the masterpiece fans had hoped it would be. It had too many strange plot twists, and didn’t really feel like a genuine Flinstones story. But for the lovely 59-second tribute to Hanna Barbera, along with those wonderful creature effects, at least it tried to give us a “yabba-dabba-doo time”.

The First Five Minutes of Dinosaur

Disney’s Dinosaur was a gamble that didn’t really pay off for the studio. It attempted to meld live action settings with CGI rendered dinosaur characters, which, though impressive for the time, did leave some audiences a bit cold with the final product. But the emotional minute opening scene still stands out years later.

The scene starts ever so simply with a collection of dinosaur eggs, and their mother watching them with love and curiosity. But when a bloodthirsty Carnotaurus attacks all of the dinosaurs in the area, including Aladar’s biological mother, the intense journey that this future peace-leading Iguanodon goes on is stunning. It all comes together to add a grand scale to a film that in other hands could have looked cheap and hokey. Sure, Dinosaur eventually turned into a movie too ambitious for its own good, but opening scenes like this can stand as an example that some risks do pay off.

Jurassic Park’s T-Rex Paddock Attack

It is im-poss-i-ble to make a list like this without including anything from Jurassic Park. It is the blockbuster that reignited the dinosaur craze, and was a pioneering achievement in both visual effects and popcorn fun storytelling. Couple that together with the pop culture phenomenon it became, and it being one of the many reasons for this article even existing – the O.G. JP always needs a shout out.

So which of the many incredible scenes from this movie would I choose? Well, the T-Rex attack, of course! No other sequence of the last 25 years continues to shoot adrenaline, fear, and wonder into my film nerd bloodstream.

Of course, Spielberg’s direction is masterful, but if it wasn’t for all of the talented individuals that worked under the guidance of Stan Winston, Phil Tippet and Dennis Muren, Jurassic Park truly wouldn’t be the movie event we fondly remember it being. They gave life to a creature that has yet to lose its energy on celluloid, and proved how the seamless blending of properly used CGI and practical effects can bring a brilliantly written and directed scene to new heights.

The Parade Scene in We’re Back

As much as I love my spooky-sauruses of various kinds, my first introduction to dinosaurs came in a much kinder visual – the animated movie We’re Back. And if you were at all a tiny kid in the early ’90s who loved animated dinos, you likely have a fondness for this particular movie.

Created by the team over at Amblimation (as counter-programming to Jurassic Park), We’re Back tells the story of a group of dinosaurs who are fed a cereal that makes them intelligent. They then are brought to the future so that they can live inside the Museum of Natural History. But when the gang gets involved with two human kids and an evil circus ringmaster, things get complicated.

Yes, this movie sounds like a fever dream…and when I take off my own nostalgia goggles, its a total mess. But there is one scene that, even if you can’t get with the plot, will likely put a smile on your face. It involves a T-Rex (voiced by John Goodman) dancing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Incredibly silly and cheesy? Of course. A chemical concoction of awesomeness? I think so. And pair it with a catchy tune, then you have got yourself a recipe for unforgettable dino-filled cinema.

Little Foot Misses His Mom in The Land Before Time

Speaking of animated dinosaurs that deliver the nostalgia, here is the grandfather of all them – The Land Before Time. Directed by Don Bluth and executive produced by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, the film tells the story of the “Longneck” named Little Foot, who has to go on a courageous journey to find a land known as The Great Valley. Along the way, he befriends other kid-aged dinos and learns about what makes a true family.

But what many people remember about this movie is the relationship between Little Foot and his mom. Much like the motherly bond shown in Bambi, Land Before Time‘s duo comes to a tragic end very early on in the film. But the spirit of Little Foot’s mother is really what carries this scene, along with Little Foot himself throughout his personal journey. From the symbolic green star-shaped leaf, to the haunting echo of her voice, this particular sequence always tugs on the heart strings, especially when James Horner’s score (yes, he did a lot of dinosaur-related movies) kicks in.

For many, The Land Before Time is a movie that walks across the line of being too grim for children, but there’s something to be said about its willingness to embrace tragedy. This was the moment that I knew I loved Little Foot as a protagonist and young me immediately understood everything this little dino was feeling.

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