Around 66 million years ago, the Earth was inhabited by giant reptilian beasts. The largest dinosaur of them all, the aptly named Supersaurus, is believed to have grown to a size of around 140 feet long. For reference, the largest blue whale (the largest animal in existence today) ever discovered grew to a length of 98 feet, which is absolutely mind-boggling.
So, imagine a planet where herds of blue whale-sized terrestrial lizards rule the plains and the forests. Such a world is difficult to comprehend as a human being in the 21st century. So, it’s no wonder that movies about dinosaurs are probably our greatest point of reference for what the Earth was like all those millions of years ago.
However, when you think of movies about dinosaurs, only one film franchise comes to mind for most people: Jurassic Park— and there’s a good reason for that. The first Jurassic Park film released in 1993 was a triumph in the realm of special effects and was the highest-grossing film ever released worldwide at the time (replacing E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial). Audiences were dazzled by the on-screen dinosaurs, produced using special effects as well as incredibly life-like animatronics. And who doesn’t love “Dinosaur Daddy” Dr. Alan Grant?
But, if you’re like me, you’ve seen all the Jurassic Park movies (and the decidedly worse Jurassic World movies), and your thirst for dinosaur-centric cinema has still not been quenched. So, in this article, we’re going to run through 7 movies about dinosaurs that aren’t part of the Jurassic Park universe.
1. Walking with Dinosaurs
Produced by the fine folks at BBC Earth and Evergreen Films, the 2013 film Walking with Dinosaurs was made to be entertaining for the entire family, but it also drew from the latest discoveries in paleontology of the time. The movie follows the journey of Alex, a bird of the genus Alexornis who lives in the Late Cretaceous period and is voiced by John Leguizamo (who’s also the voice of Sid from Ice Age). Alex then runs into the youngest and smallest hatchling from a litter of Pachyrhinosaurus named Patchi (who’s voiced by Justin Long), and the two of them become great friends.
This movie is heartwarming and entertaining, but it’s actually a pretty decent way to learn about what life was like in the Late Cretaceous period. The film’s producers ensured that the details were all accurate to the time. So, if you have a child who loves dinosaurs or you just want to learn more about dinosaurs yourself, watch Walking with Dinosaurs.
2. The VelociPastor
Now, let’s talk about a movie that’s the furthest thing from historically accurate one could possibly imagine. The 2019 film The VelociPastor first screened at the B-Movie, Underground, and Trash (BUT) Film Festival in 2018 and has since become somewhat of a cult classic. It’s one of those films that’s so incredibly bad that it’s actually sort of entertaining. Personally, I thoroughly enjoy trash movies that are laughably bad; just read my high praise of the cult classic film The Leprechaun 4: In Space. However, The VelociPastor is so poorly made that even a bad movie buff like myself had trouble enjoying it.
The movie follows a priest named Doug, whose parents die in a car crash, and, as a response, he decides to take a trip to China. While in China, he runs into a dying girl in the woods who hands him the tooth of a velociraptor. The tooth has magical powers that cause Doug to moonlight as a velociraptor. So, he’s half-velociraptor, half-pastor. He’s The VelociPastor.
3. The Dinosaur Project
The 2012 British film The Dinosaur Project could potentially be considered a rip-off of the Jurassic Park series. However, it’s definitely hard to make a movie about dinosaurs without someone saying that you’re copying Jurassic Park, so I sympathize with writer/director Sid Bennett. This film follows a group of explorers from the British Cryptozoological Society who travel to the Congo in search of Mokele-mbembe, a Loch Ness Monster-type cryptid that’s believed to be a surviving dinosaur.
Of course, things go awry when the crew flies over the Congo in a helicopter, only to be taken down by a group of flying dinosaurs. The members of the crew who survive the helicopter crash then find themselves in a dense jungle where, apparently, dinosaurs still exist. This film isn’t very accurate to what the world would have looked like when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and it also didn’t get very good reviews from critics. But, if you’re desperate for more dino-related cinema, it might be worth a watch.
4. Jurassic Hunt
The 2021 action/sci-fi film Jurassic Hunt is pretty triggering for those who don’t like violence towards animals (even if those animals are extinct dinosaurs), and the whole thing kind of stinks of toxic masculinity. Still, it’s a movie about dinosaurs, so it’s on this list. Jurassic Hunt involves a group of trophy hunters visiting a remote wilderness park where they can hunt genetically recreated dinosaurs for sport.
Unsurprisingly, things go horribly wrong as the group of hunters are trying to massacre a bunch of vicious dinosaurs, and the hunters become the hunted. The members of the group must then try to escape the park without ending up between the jaws of a Tyrannosaurus. If you like movies with subpar dialogue, zero character development, and a shit-ton of gunfire, then you’ll probably enjoy Jurassic Hunt.
5. Land of the Lost
Now, the 2009 adventure/sci-fi/comedy is only tangentially about dinosaurs, but honestly, this movie is so amazing that I’ll take any excuse I can get to mention it. The film stars Will Ferrell and Danny McBride, two of the funniest human beings to ever walk this planet, alongside Anna Friel, who brings a refreshing skepticism to their absurd antics. The movie follows the journey of scientist Rick Marshall, his assistant Holly, and a survivalist named Will after they’ve been sucked through a space-time vortex.
After descending through the vortex, the trio finds themselves in a world inhabited by dinosaurs as well as a race of incredibly stupid beings named Sleestaks. As they try to make their way back home, they encounter all sorts of crazy creatures (dinosaurs included) and try not to get eaten. This movie is outrageously funny from start to finish and is absolutely worth a watch for anyone who hasn’t seen it.
6. The Land Before Time
If you didn’t know this one was coming, you should have. The 1988 animated film The Land Before Time is one of the most adorable and heartfelt movies I’ve ever seen, and it was an integral part of my childhood development. The film follows the adventures of a group of young dinosaurs as they raise an orphaned Tyrannosaurus baby, survive a drought, and witness a solar eclipse.
Yes, this film has some intense moments and action-filled scenes, but it’s really about the lessons that these dinosaurs learn about love, friendship, and life in general. It’s impossible not to fall in love with this adorable posse. And you might even learn a thing or two about dinosaurs while watching The Land Before Time.
7. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
If you’ve never watched the Ice Age series of movies, then you’ve been missing out on something amazing. These films are incredibly endearing, extremely funny, and sometimes supremely intense. The third installment in the series Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs introduces dinosaurs into the Ice Age universe after Manny (voiced by Ray Romano) and Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo) discover a nest of Tyrannosaurus eggs.
Sid then decides that he’s going to take the eggs, which then hatch into baby dinosaurs who begin treating Sid as their mother. Unfortunately for Sid and Manny, the real mother wants her babies back. Eventually, Sid returns the baby dinosaurs to their mother, but only after they avoid several life-threatening obstacles.