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11 Best Dinosaur Movies Of All Time

11 Best Dinosaur Movies Of All Time

dinosaur movies for kids

From The Land Before Time (1988) to Jurassic Park (1993), here’s lining up the best dinosaur movies.

Welcome, fellow dino-enthusiasts! If you’re anything like us, you’ve been captivated by the colossal, awe-inspiring creatures that once roamed our planet. From the mighty T-Rex to the gentle Brachiosaurus, prehistoric beasts have constantly fascinated us humans. And what better way to indulge in our collective dino obsession than through the magic of cinema?

A thrilling blend of science, adventure, and sometimes, a dash of whims, movies about dinosaurs have been a staple of the industry for decades. They’ve taken us on epic journeys through time, brought us face-to-face with the most fearsome predators, and even made us shed a tear or two for our scaly friends. They can be adorable and silly, intimidating and horrifying and so much more.

Quickly then, let’s embark on a cinematic expedition, exploring the best movies about dinosaurs. From the groundbreaking classics that first brought these magnificent creatures to life, to the latest CGI masterpieces that push the boundaries of what’s possible, we have it all covered. Whether you’re a seasoned paleontologist, a budding dino expert, or just someone who loves a good movie, buckle up! We’re about to take a trip back in time, to an era when dinosaurs ruled the Earth.

Besides our good, old go-to Jurassic Park, how many other dinosaur movies can you think of off the top of your head? Hopefully, this list will help to expand your horizons and to see some seriously cool dino films.

 

Ranking The Best Dinosaur Movies

11. Scooby-Doo Legend of the Phantosaur (2011)

Image Source: IMDb

Everyone loves a Scooby-Doo mystery, and Scooby-Doo Legend of the Phantosaur has a lot going for it. It has dinosaurs, a spa, hypnosis, Matthew Gray Gubler and Matthew Lillard, and much more. The animation isn’t the same style as most of the Scooby-Doo movies, so the nostalgia isn’t as strong. The beginning is also a little hard to get into; it definitely takes too long to get to the dinosaurs.

This movie is heavily focused on Shaggy. The Mystery Gang is having a relaxing spa vacation because Shaggy is diagnosed with a severe overreaction to fear. The spa town also has a paleontological dig. Soon, Shaggy and Scooby discover a phantom-looking dinosaur that threatens to scare the locals away. It’s the first time Scooby-Doo has had an adventure with dinosaurs, and that alone makes it worth the watch.

Where to Watch for Free: Max, Boomerang

Rent/Buy: Amazon Prime, Apple TV

 

10. Dinotopia: Quest for the Ruby Sunstone (2005)

Image Source: Mubi

Dinotopia is very similar to The Land Before Time movies, but it definitely isn’t as strong. It does hold up when it comes to characters, though. There is much more variety and their personalities are more distinct and entertaining. It isn’t very well-known, but it has an insane cast, including Malcolm McDowell, Kathy Griffin, Michael Clarke Duncan, George Segal, and Alyssa Milano.

Dinotopia: Quest for the Ruby Sunstone follows orphan Kex, who, after a horrible shipwreck, wakes up on a mysterious island called Dinotopia. He makes friends with a group of young dinosaurs. The villain is Ogthar, an evil dinosaur that gets out of prison, and he discovered a powerful ancient artifact, the ruby sunstone. With the stone, Ogthar plans to rule Dinotopa. The kids band together to go on an adventure to save their home.

Where to Watch for Free: Youtube

Rent/Buy: Roku

 

9. The Land That Time Forgot (1974)

Image Source: Letterboxd

The Land That Time Forgot was certainly amazing when it came out because the technology wasn’t very advanced. But it is really a treat to watch now as well. All the effects are practical, meaning nothing is computer generated like we would see nowadays. The dinosaurs are brought to life through rubber puppets and forced perspective.

This movie isn’t a great film; it’s just a lot of fun. It’s gimmicky, ridiculous, and surprisingly entertaining. It takes place after World War I when a German submarine carrying both Germans and British captives goes off course. The passengers end up on Caprona, an island on which prehistoric creatures still roam the earth. It’s an epic adventure that borders on camp. “Should one drink white or red wine with plesiosaurus, Herr Von Schoenvorts?”

Rent/Buy: Roku

 

8. Dinosaur (2000)

best dinosaur movies
Image Source: Variety

Disney released Dinosaur in 2000, and it was the most expensive computer-animated film when it came out. It was filmed live-action style on location, and then computer-generated dinosaurs were added in. Visually, Dinosaur is impressive and amazingly beautiful to watch; the animation is stellar and it really was a technical breakthrough. However, the plot is slow and very generic. Plus, the ride at Disney World is fantastic, although it might be scary for younger kids.

It follows Aladar, an orphaned Iguanadon, who was raised by lemurs. One day, a meteor strikes, and the world they once knew turned into a desert wasteland. Aladar teams up with fellow herbivores to look for the “Nesting Grounds,” where there is plenty of water and vegetation to go around.

Where to Watch for Free: Disney+

Rent/Buy: Amazon Prime, Apple TV

 

7. The Good Dinosaur (2015)

Image Source: Walt Disney Studios

Technically, The Good Dinosaur is the first Pixar film that didn’t quite satisfy box office expectations. One place Pixar never fails is animation. It’s a spectacle just like all the others. But the characters are very basic and the plot is unimaginative. It just feels like a movie we’ve all seen before. It has little moments of fun that are reminiscent of a Western, but it is lacking overall.

The Good Dinosaur took place 65 million years ago in a world where dinosaurs never went extinct. Our main character, Arlo, is a young Apatosaurus who gets washed away in a rainstorm. Luckily he runs into Spot, a young Neanderthal boy that wants to help him reunite with his family. Together, they embark on an epic adventure full of beauty, challenges, and unbeatable friendship.

Where to Watch for Free: Disney+

Rent/Buy: Amazon Prime, Apple TV

 

6. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)

Image Source: Blue Sky Studios

This movie is pure fun. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is the third in the Ice Age series, and definitely the most exciting. The animation is fully realized, and it adds a lot of things that the other movies don’t have. Kids will love this movie, and I think adults can appreciate it as well. Dawn of the Dinosaurs stands out by giving Scrat a love interest, adding the new and hilarious character Buck, and simply by having dinosaurs.

The whole gang is back: Sid the Sloth, Manny, Diego, Ellie, Crash, and Eddie. Sid discovers weirdly huge eggs and decides to raise them as his own. Once they crack, however, the group realizes that these were dinosaur eggs and that they may be in over their heads. When Sid is taken with the dino babies by the dino mama, his friends follow them down through the ice and into an unknown underground world. This world isn’t frozen, it’s a jungle full of mysterious creatures, including dinosaurs.

Where to Watch for Free: Hulu (Premium)

Rent/Buy: Apple TV, Amazon Prime

 

5. Tammy and the T-Rex (1994)

Image Source: Greenline Productions

Have you ever wanted to see Denise Richards play a nice character? Have you ever wanted to see Paul Walker as a dinosaur? Because Tammy and the T-Rex is about to be the craziest 90s movie you’ve ever seen. It has bloody kills, sexual innuendos, outrageously ridiculous characters, a gay best friend, and everything else you could possibly wish for.

Bear with me on this plot. High school student Tammy‘s (Denise Richards) boyfriend, Michael (Paul Walker), is brutally murdered, and an evil scientist implants the dead boyfriend’s brain into a Tyrannosaurus. Since Michael is now a T-Rex, he seeks revenge on the bullies that killed him and protects Tammy. Don’t worry, it’s just as amazing as it sounds.

Where to Watch for Free: Tubi, Peacock, Pluto TV

Rent/Buy: Amazon Prime

 

4. Jurassic World (2015)

Image Source: Vox

Colin Trevorrow revived the Jurassic Park series in 2015 with Jurassic World. Expectations were high, and luckily it wasn’t just a blatant remake of the original. Rather, it shows the flip side: a dinosaur theme park that actually became successful, even if it doesn’t last. Chris Pratt was really getting big at the time, so fans were excited to see him in one of the most beloved franchises. He stars next to Bryce Dallas Howard, who critics were excited to see because she is a phenomenal actor.

Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the operations manager of the new park, and her two nephews, Gray and Zach, are coming to visit her and the park. And this isn’t your average dinosaur movie with your average dinosaurs. Dr. Henry Wu, played by BD Wong, has genetically engineered a new dinosaur, the Indominus Rex, composed of DNA of the tyrannosaurus and velociraptor, as well as a few different dinos for size and survival skills. The main issue with this is that the creature is entirely unpredictable, and a lot smarter than they bargained for.

See Also
All That Breathes (2022) review

Where to Watch For Free: Peacock, Tubi

Where to Watch to Rent/Buy: Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV

 

3. King Kong (2005)

Image Source: IMDb

Peter Jackson’s King Kong is a gripping fantasy action film. It’s also extremely long and was extremely expensive. It’s visually stunning and very entertaining. The beginning is a little slow, but the acting is great, so it’s still captivating in its own right. There have been many King Kong adaptations over the years, and they might get lumped together in your memory. This one is a true, expanded remake. It’s also one in which King Kong fights the T-Rex.

Jack Black is a director who is traveling with his crew and lead actress Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) to the mysterious Skull Island to film a new movie. Ann gets kidnapped by the giant ape, and the shoot quickly becomes a rescue mission, but it won’t be easy. The island is full of genuinely scary creatures, including prehistoric mutant bugs and dinosaurs.

Where to Rent/Buy: Amazon Prime, Apple TV

 

2. The Land Before Time (1988)

best dinosaur movies
Image Source: Universal Pictures

The Land Before Time is a timeless classic that has captured the hearts of audiences for years. It was directed by legendary animator Don Bluth. It deals with some pretty serious themes, but the characters are lovable and endearing, so the film is endearing to both children and adults. Since its 1988 release, there have been over 10 sequels and a TV series.

The Land Before Time is about Littlefoot, an herbivore, who, with his mother, is attacked by The Sharptooth (Frank Welker), but his mom doesn’t survive. Suddenly, an earthquake hits, and he is lost and alone. He finds new friends along the way who are also looking for their family. Unbeknownst to them, Littlefoot is still being stalked by the vicious carnivore Sharptooth. This film will bring you joy no matter what age you are.

Where to Watch for Free: Netflix

Rent/Buy: Amazon Prime, Apple TV

 

 

1. Jurassic Park (1993)

Image Source: Universal Pictures

In 1993, life found a way in the form of Jurassic Park. Both critics and fans went wild for this movie, and with good reason. Practically everyone would agree that it is the best in the franchise. It’s genuinely very scary, and the dinosaurs look amazing. Especially for the time; nothing like this had been seen on screen before.

Jurassic Park is about Dr. John Hammond (played by Richard Attenborough) and his new theme park that features real living dinosaurs. He invites 3 doctors, each an expert in their field. Those doctors are chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill), and paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern). The plot of the film comes in when dinosaurs start escaping their exhibits and destroying the park.

Where to Watch For Free: Peacock, Tubi

Where to Watch to Rent/Buy: Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV

 

Conclusion

All of these dinosaur movies are memorable and well-made. If you’re wondering why Godzilla wasn’t on this list, that’s because he isn’t a dinosaur. The original 1954 film describes Godzilla as a creature “between the marine reptiles and the evolving terrestrial animals.” A few good dinosaur films that didn’t make the list, but are still worth seeing, are The Valley of Gwangi (1969), Walking with Dinosaurs (2013), and 64 (2023). 

 

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