Combining several intriguing themes, "The Dinosaur Hunter" is only mildly engaging as a tale about the triumph of scientific reason and decency over creationists and scalawags. While qualifying as good after-school special material, Canuck made-for-cable pic could have been a much heftier intellectual adventure with spunky young adolescents facing off against an arch nemesis in the form of Christopher Plummer. After future playdates via Canadian cabler WIC Premium, too-gentle drama should get some bones from foreign markets.

Combining several intriguing themes, “The Dinosaur Hunter” is only mildly engaging as a tale about the triumph of scientific reason and decency over creationists and scalawags. While qualifying as good after-school special material, Canuck made-for-cable pic could have been a much heftier intellectual adventure with spunky young adolescents facing off against an arch nemesis in the form of Christopher Plummer. After future playdates via Canadian cabler WIC Premium, too-gentle drama should get some bones from foreign markets.

Edwina Follows’ script, based on Pam Conrad novel, frames tale of curious young Julia (Alison Pill) in context of adult Julia telling a boy at a natural history museum about her first encounter with dinosaur remains. While her Saskatchewan farm town is enduring a drought and harsh winds, Julia, along with brother Daniel (Bill Switzer) is enchanted by hunter Jack (Simon McCorkindale) and his search for a complete dinosaur skeleton. Plummer’s Hump Hinton, the bad guy and longtime rival to Jack, uses any means necessary to find the bones. Underlying strengths are weakened by strained plotting and lame dramatizations that even Plummer can’t embolden.

The Dinosaur Hunter

Canada

Production

A Credo Releasing presentation of an Independent Moving Pictures production. (International sales: Credo Releasing.) Produced by Gail Tilson. Executive producers, James Brooks, Derek Mazur. Directed by Rick Stevenson. Screenplay, Edwina Follows, based on the book "My Daniel" by Pam Conrad.

Crew

Camera (color), Gerald Packer; editor, Jackie Dzuba; music, Jay Semko, Ross Nykiforuk; production designer, Hugh Shankland; art director, Dave Selinger; costume designer, Cathy McComb. Reviewed at Hollywood Film Festival (competing), Aug. 5, 2000. Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Alison Pill, Bill Switzer, Simon McCorkindale, Christopher Plummer, Enuka Okuma.

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