“He think we stinkweed and won’t want to eats us.”
The Land Before Time: Journey of the Brave is the 14th movie in the long-running series which began back in 1988. Wait a minute, did I just read my own writing correctly? The 14th movie in the series? Yes, dear reader, it is almost unbelievable but it’s true. This outing marks the 14th in the series about a group of young dinosaurs who have trials and tribulations in a world without humans in the titular Land Before Time (aka the Great Valley).
When your series reaches its 14th entry, it’s really tough to expect anything new. Hey, the fourth entry in a franchise would be lucky to offer viewers anything original. And that’s the case with The Land Before Time: Journey of the Brave. Once again we have a story where a quintet of young dinos goes on a journey away from home during which they encounter evil dinosaurs. But of course the ultimate objective of the journey is one of self-discovery during which the fivesome learns to appreciate each other’s differences and their friendships are renewed with the bonds stronger than ever.
This go-around Littlefoot (Felix Avitia, Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything) once again takes center stage and the problem at hand hits close to home. His father Bron (Scott Whyte, Eye Candy) who we met a few movies ago is the leader of a nomadic tribe of different species of dinosaurs and every year at the new growth season he comes to visit Littlefoot and his grandparents (Barry Bostwick, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Miriam Flynn, Taz-Mania, respectively). But this year the day arrives without the subsequent arrival of Littlefoot’s dad. New arrival Wild Arms (Damon Wayans, Jr. New Girl) tells the dinosaurs that Littlefoot’s dad is trapped back at the fire mountain (aka volcano) and to say it’s a treacherous journey to contemplate is an understatement. Littlefoot’s grandparents say that as soon as the mountain stops spewing fire they’ll mount a rescue mission to go see what they can do to help Littlefoot’s dad.
But of course what kind of a movie would this be if there was a sensible plan in place that everyone actually followed? No, no, of course Littlefoot decides to head off on his own, fearing that every moment he waits is a moment his father may not have. And it wouldn’t be much of a Land Before Time movie if he goes alone so of course Cera (Anndi McAfee, Hey Arnold!), Spike (Rob Paulson, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Petrie (Jeff Bennett, Jake and the Neverland Pirates) and Ducky (Aria Noelle Curzon, Recess) tag along as well.
Narrated by Tony Amendola (Continuum) The Land Before Time: Journey of the Brave is a musical adventure about looking out for your family, knowing when it’s time to ask for help, and trusting in the people who care about you. And in order to highlight the musical aspect of the film Littlefoot meets new friend Etta (Reba McEntire, Reba) who sings the most well-performed song of the bunch about looking for the light. Basically the movie’s moral wrapped up in a song-shaped bow. Bolstered in no small part by a continued desire to provide a kid-friendly alternative to 1993’s blockbuster Jurassic Park (and now 2015’s Jurassic World) kids’ fascination with dinosaurs will continue to fuel this franchise until we hit dino overload.
What The Land Before Time series has going for it are audience turnover and a consistent family-friendly vibe. There are always going to be little kids who love dinosaurs and for whom the idea of talking, fully anthropomorphic creatures will fascinate. The life lessons the series teaches will rarely feel as though you are repeatedly getting hit over the head by any. Also a plus is the recap at the beginning of the story meaning you can jump in at any point in the series if you really wanted.
In terms of technical specs we have a pretty standard 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Some of the animation is really pretty and some betrays more of the CGI elements than I wanted but that’s just my own bias. On the audio side of things three Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks provide the weight to the music-heavy soundscape. A nicely put together combination of technical specs overall, with the edge going to the audio side of the equation.
Special features consist of four sing-along videos.
Unless you’ve got little ones who are begging for it, go ahead and wait a bit before purchasing The Land Before Time: Journey of the Brave. The series has a habit of bundling three movies together in one offering and you’ll get more dino for your money. Plus, it’s currently streaming on Netflix.