Little time is wasted in "Miniforce: Deeno the King of Dinosaurs" as director Lee Yeong-joon just skips right past any relevant exposition and just dumps us right into the exact situation promised by the movie's theatrical poster. Dinosaurs are coming out of interdimensional portals, attacking the world, and the Miniforce steps in to stop them. After a reasonably epic, if occasionally goofy battle, the Miniforce subdues the titular dinosaur king Deeno (voiced by Um Sang-hyun), but the antagonists fumble the escape.
At this point "Miniforce: Deeno the King of Dinosaurs" effectively transitions to a completely different movie, as Deeno is separated from his apparently evil allies and their long term plan to attack Earth and just befriends some dinosaur-loving kid. It's extremely silly and cheesy- yet oddly touching, as Deeno is simultaneously shown off as being very scary yet also quite cool, and oddly enough not even all that dangerous. He's just a misunderstood dinosaur that is for some reason the vanguard of an Earth invasion force.
In stark contrast to the aggressively episodic format of the first Miniforce movie, "The Strong and Mini Special Forces: The Attack of a New Villain", "Miniforce: Deeno the King of Dinosaurs" is surprisingly committed to just centering its entire emotional arc around a kid and a dinosaur. The Miniforce disappears for such long stretches it's easy to forget they're present in the movie at all. They're mainly just a means of slowing the dinosaurs down until the mystery behind Deeno is unraveled.
I should note that the great Deeno mystery is not really all that complicated, and only barely worth avoiding spoiling. But the actual plot isn't really the point of this movie at all. The high point is the surprisingly detailed and mostly realistic dinosaur models. The animators went to the trouble of giving Deeno and most of the other dinosaurs a magnificent scale design that really makes them feel vibrant and alive.
Naturally it helps that for the most part the dinosaurs spend their time in this movie fighting the Miniforce, as well as other factions, with Deeno alone getting an emotional touch. While dinosaurs fighting superpowered armored soldiers isn't exactly the most realistic way to depict dinosaur behavior, there's quite a bit of range to the way the dinosaurs act. In many instances the dinosaurs are fighting the Miniforce the same way they would fight other dinosaurs in the wild. This is nice attention to detail even if it only leads to a silly headbutt punchline.
These strong elements coalesce excellently, to the point I found myself genuinely enjoying "Miniforce: Deeno the King of Dinosaurs" in spite of the movie's obvious tilt toward younger audiences. The story is quite accessible, and even understated at times. I particularly liked how Deeno rarely ever talks. The imposing dinosaur is so well-animated he never really needs to. We learn about him at about the same clip as everyone else. He's a terrifying creature who can only express himself non-verbally, and that's not the same as being evil.
Review by William Schwartz
"Miniforce: Deeno the King of Dinosaurs" is directed by Lee Yeong-joon, and voiced by Shin Yong-woo, Um Sang-hyun, Lee So-young-I, Jeon Tae-yeol, Yang Jeong-hwa, Nam Doh-hyeong. Release date in Korea: 2020/02/06.
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.
"[HanCinema's Film Review] "Miniforce: Deeno the King of Dinosaurs""
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