Between my entire family I think this is the one we watched the most. It is directed by Charles Grosvenor, written by John Loy and Libby Hinson, edited by Jay Bixsen, and it is the first time Thomas Decker is Littlefoot’s sole actor. It is the last time there is no CG. Speaking of that the later films have great CG. Most films in that time had characters that looked so plastic and ugly, and for The Land Before Time that was never the case. Unlike the other films this was made to be the last in the franchise, which explains why they slowly brought the group back together starting with The Stone of Cold Fire (7). This is the first film that had Susan Blu being the casting director.
First this has some great commercials. One is a family pack. It include We’re Back a Dinosaur’s story. It has really bad animation. I really enjoy the joint commercial for the An American Tail movies. It also has a quick commercial for 3 that makes it and 2 look like a two part trilogy. I do not like the Paulie commercial, which makes it look like there is way more gross humor than it had. It ends with a great commercial for the entire Land Before Time series.
Like 7, instead of John Ingle narrating a character does it. Grandpa is telling them about the beginning of time, but presents it as a mystery. He then seemingly contradicts himself from The Mysterious Island (5), when he says there were dinosaurs in The Great Valley long ago, while he earlier said all of them lived in the Mysterious Beyond recently. It is simply explained by that the past group left for some reason. It makes sense based on doc contradicting Pterano in 7 by saying some valleys are just as good as The Great Valley. In Grandpa’s story for the only time in the franchise an entire herd flees from “The biggest, meanest, most ferocious sharptooth ever.” Some fans have wondered if it is the sharptooth from the original based on a similar design and making an entire herd flee. It seemingly has the constitution of him, but I think this is from well before then like when they first noticed Saurusrock. Original sharptooth may be ancient, so I like to think this theory is true. I think the Saurusrock part is fictional within the story, since it is later shown to be outside of the great valley. A little plot hole with the Lone Dinosaur is he should have shown up in 2 and 11, except for the likely belief that the Lone Dinosaur is real, but more mortal. The scene overall is very good. It is cool seeing the lone dinosaur use his tail like a rope (Lone Ranger style) instead of a whip and the sharptooth head butting him. Also Frank Welker quit trying so hard later, but his acting is incredible. So much pain and fear in just speaking in roars.
We are introduced to Sarah’s nephews, Dinah and Dana. My family always thought they were fine characters who helped the plot without taking up much time, but I know the general online fan base hates them. Sarah is in charge of watching them. I guess at least one of her sisters did survive. Littlefoot really got into the story, and his dream about it is very funny, mainly for the sharptooth being horrified of him.
Again Frank Welker’s acting is terrific as he communicates pain in roar in a completely different way than last time. I am sure in Littlefoot’s dream he is picturing that as the sharptooth who killed his mother, and this is why he idolizes someone who can wipe out sharpteeth whenever needed.
After that it is shown to be Fall, which Mr. Threehorn seems to think means death, and he is mad they are playing with the falling tree stars. Grandpa defends them, which I am sure will have nothing to do with the theme later. They play a game, and it is mentioned Cera is always the bad guy. In 2 Spike did volunteer, so I guess she is exaggerating. In the game Littlefoot falls off a log and a longneck named Doc saves him. Until The Great Longneck Migration (10) many fans thought Doc was Littlefoot’s father. The part about Mr. Threehorn wanting him gone and Grandpa defending him seems to be insignificant, but again it adds to the theme about a hero in your own family, and sometimes that is helping another hero. After meeting Doc Littlefoot thinks he is the lone dinosaur. In one of the few so bad it’s good scenes at the same time. Cera gets stuck in a bubble, and Petrie saves her. While angry she tells her nieces to get lost, as tt gets to the main problem here. Many times it seems too much time is dedicated to showing their daily lives. Littlefoot sings the song “Lone Dinosaur.” It is considered a love it or hate it, and I am neutral. The songs here have a western theme similar to the sci-fi theme of 7. To give a breakdown Littlefoot thinks Doc is the lone dinosaur. Cera gets the others to doubt it saying Grandpa’s story was from a long time ago, and everyone from it is dead, but she then starts to doubt. They later realize Dinah and Dana left for Saurusrock.
I should probably be upset the tiny nibblings accidently escaped a sharptooth, but I felt that a one time deal was okay, if it was a threat every other time. Throughout the movie the characters are shown the same rocks three times. It helps bring the focus to the mood. First it is playful. Then it is mysterious, and the last one is later. The regular group arriving has too much filler, but it is nice seeing them talk about prehistoric redwood trees, and seeing them flee from the sharptooth. I also appreciate not using a T-Rex to give a different design. They escape the same way as in Scooby-Doo and the Cyberchase by using the thick trees. They find Saurusrock, and here is another problem. Littlefoot does nothing in getting the twins down, but seeing saurusrock up close makes the entire group a little more sure that he is the Lone Dinosaur. A tooth rock from it falls, and Grandpa earlier said it breaking would make bad luck befall The Great Valley. On the way back they are chased by the sharptoot, and this chase is really good. It ends with them crossing a log over a cliff. Contrary to what Cera said in 7 she is in the front and Spike is in the back with Littlefoot and Petrie saving him. They barely get him out in a slow dramatic scene and the sharptooth falls down the cliff.
Mr. Threehorn figures out where his great nieces were, and he is incredibly unhappy with Cera. The rest of them start to think its bad luck. When Ducky says “dinosaur” I always wonder if this is the only film in the series where someone besides the narrator says the word. In a contrast to earlier Littlefoot’s dream is now a nightmare. He is convinced it is bad luck. Ducky and Spike now believe after getting injured, and apparently leaves are the bandages. Petrie does not believe. Cera does not either, and they sing about it ignoring a volcanic eruption in the distance. I actually really enjoy this song. It has some good references to the first one. Spike singing is another good thing. Afterwards the best watering hole has dried up. It does mess with the drought in 3’s logic, but I never think of that after the movie is over, and it can be explained as them finding a new watering hole due to the last one nearly drying up. To add to this logic the third one happened well before the entire valley was explored.
Littlefoot asks Doc about bad luck. He believes and says to change what is possible and for everything else leave for greener pastures. It shows him not being a good fit for Littlefoot, which makes me think he was never written to be his dad. Then we get our main natural disaster of the film, a tornado. Cera gets the twins to safety, but Grandpa cannot find Littlefoot who gets saved by Doc. This is a slow dramatic scene, but the film does need more fast paced action. The faster parts of it are the best, which keep it from feeling too much like the log chase earlier.
While cleaning up Mr. Threehorn and the other dinosaurs minus Grandpa think Doc is bad luck. They discuss it while he is cleaning very well making it come off even worse. Grandpa defends him, and then Littlefoot comes in very angry. In a nice touch he calls him “The only one [hero] I ever met.” Most shows would have given away the ending by showing Grandpa upset right there, but this series waits a whole ten seconds to get a more subtle foreshadowing. Only Littlefoot really cares about him leaving due to the others knowing he would have anyway, so Littlefoot leaves alone. The rest of the group does eventually conclude he is right about them causing bad luck, and that it exists and only Grandpa is against the notion of luck.
Littlefoot then sings the best song in the film, “When You’re on Your Own.” It has a spiritual successor in 14. It captures both the fear and joy of being alone, and makes a change in him realizing he does not really want to do it. He finds the sharptooth from earlier, and he explains his plan to the audience as he does it, get tooth, put it on Saurusrock, and Doc can stay not knowing Doc is right then leaving since he is a wanderer. Littlefoot’s friends figure out what is going on and go to grandpa for help. When he climbs the rocks the mood is now tiring and unfamiliar, which is what Grandpa is. He has actually never been to Saurusrock, and he regrets telling them about it. Like 7, a lot of this film is dealing with your heroes.
There are several times it looks like there should be foreshadowing that the sharptooth is alive, which never comes. That makes is final reveal even scarier, and it wakes up when Littlefoot is inside its mouth. I earlier said this film had a better climax than 10, and I stick to it. Unlike the slower scenes from earlier this chase scene and fight is quick and dark. It includes Littlefoot escaping for…
The same sharptooth from the legend showing up? I love this ambiguity. A shadow then comes to the rescue, which Littlefoot thinks is Doc, but it is Grandpa. I have not praised the fight scenes much since ten, but this is great to see. Forget tail swings being the top weapon. Grandpa uses his tail to hold him still to head-butt him. Then the other sharptooth comes. This is great. Unlike 10, there are no longneck reinforcements waiting, and dark sharptooth uses the distraction to kick Grandpa to the ground, only for Doc to take out brown sharptooth with the same move The Lone Dinosaur used in the legend. After taking out dark sharptooth with a head-butt Grandpa and Doc fight them two versus two. This is great. No wonder we watched this so much.
With the sharpteeth defeated (likely dead) Doc leaves. Littlefoot tells him to stay near the valley in case they need a hero. “You already got a hero kid.” Doc says while looking at Grandpa (picking up Cera by the scruff of her neck?)
This does not hold up so well as an adult due to the filler, but it is the most memorable of the series. It has a great climax and ambiguity. I personally do not think Doc is The Lone Dinosaur by the way. This is great.
The new climax ranking is 6, 10, 7, 14, 11, 12, 8, 9, 13
The best songs are now 1. Very Important Creature (7) 2. Beyond the Mysterious Beyond (7) 3. Bestest friends (10) 24 “The Lesson (8) 5. “Family (8) 6. Adventuring (10). 7. flip, Flap, Fly (12). 8. How do You Know (13). 9. “On You’re Own” (6) 10. Chanson D’ Ennui (9).
The new running time order is 10 (85 minutes), 14 (82 minutes) 12/11 (81 minutes each), 6 (77 minutes) 13 (76 minutes), 9/8/7 (75 minutes each)
The new film rankings are 7, 6, 10, 8, 14, 12, 11, 9, 13. Despite being number 2 six was not considered for the top spot.