Director – Ernest Farino, Screenplay – Paul Callisi, Ethan Reiff & Cyrus Voris, Producers – Oana & Vlad Paunescu, Photography – Viorel Sergovici & Vivi Dragon Vasile, Music – Richard Band, Visual Effects – Alchemy FX (Supervisors – Joseph & Wendy Grossberg), Visual Effects Consultant – Chuck Comiski, Digital Effects Supervisor – Randall William Cook, Zoetrope’s Exoskeleton/Stop-Motion Armatures – John Deall, Dinosaur Effects Supervisor – Len Burge & Darren Perks, Creature Effects Supervisor – Mark Rappaport, Prism Effects – Ralf Cordero, Production Design – Vali Calinascu & Colin De Rouin. Production Company – The Kushner-Locke Co/Full Moon Entertainment
Corbin Allred (Josh Kirby), Jennifer Burns (Azabeth Siege), Barrie Ingham (Irwin 1138), Derek Webster (Dr Zoetrope), Spencer Rochfort (Lord Henry), John DeMita (William of Dearborn), Sandra Guibord (Lady Jennifer), Time Winters (Blacksmith Keir), Jonathan Charles Kaplan (Irwin Lee), Robert Louis Kempf (Theodore), Johnny Green (Duke Dukington), Charisma Carpenter (Beth Sullivan)
The year 2420. Just before his rival, the evil Dr Zoetrope, breaks into the lab, the scientist Irwin 1138 breaks a device known as the Nullifier, which is capable of destroying the entire universe, into six pieces and places them into a time machine, tossing them out across time. One of these lands in the kennel of fourteen year-old Josh Kirby’s dog in the year 1994. Josh becomes caught up in the cross-time battle between Irwin 1138 and Dr Zoetrope for possession of The Nullifier. Due to Zoetrope’s interference, Josh’s home is reduced to molten lava in the timeline he comes from. Josh joins Irwin in his timepod in a race to get to the other components before Dr Zoetrope. Their first stop off is England in 1205 A.D. where they are joined by a fiery teenage warrior girl Azabeth Siege. There they must fight the rightful lord’s evil brother who has subjugated the peasantry using a tamed dinosaur.
Planet of the Dino-Knights was the first of the Josh Kirby … Time Warrior! films, a likeable series of juveniles from low-budget producers Albert and Charles Band. The Josh Kirby films mustered an engaging series of cross-temporal adventures that during their better moments conjured some of the spirit of tv’s Doctor Who (1963-89, 2005– ).
Planet of the Dino-Knights is unfortunately is the weakest of the Josh Kirby series, it not yet having developing either the wry sense of humour or touching moments of characterisation that made the later entries worthwhile. There is never much to the Mediaeval plot – the title and the series pre-credits teaser make the concept seem a good deal more exciting than it is. There is not even any titular planet of the dino-knights – it’s just Earth’s historical past with a couple of stop-motion animated dinosaurs. The story comes to an abrupt end with a cliffhanger that appears to have been jammed-on seemingly because the film had reached a pre-determined length. (Part of the problem being that the decision was made following shooting to make Planet of the Dino-Knights into the first story rather than the second film The Human Pets, which involved some post-production organisation of the storylines). The shabby effects work added a certain endearing charm to many of the other episodes (again not unlike Doctor Who) but when forced to rely on them too much as here – like the extremely poor stop-motion animated dinosaurs or Mark Rappaport’s typically unconvincing puppetry effects – the charms wear thin.
Corbin Allred has a precociousness that gradually became more welcome as the series continued. The best creation of the series is the teen warrior girl Azabeth Seige, portrayed with a zesty fire and an often touching vulnerability by Jennifer Burns. Most memorable line:– Corbin Allred asking Barrie Ingham about the logic behind Dr Zoetrope’s plan to obtain the Nullifier to destroy the universe and his blithe dismissal of the seeming flaw in many such mad scientist plans:– “But won’t that destroy him too?” “I told you he was mad.”
The other Josh Kirby … Time Warrior! films are: Josh Kirby … Time Warrior! The Human Pets (1995), Josh Kirby … Time Warrior! Trapped on Toyworld (1996), Josh Kirby … Time Warrior! Eggs from 70 Billion B.C. (1996), Josh Kirby … Time Warrior! Journey to the Magic Cavern (1996) and Josh Kirby … Time Warrior! Last Battle for the Universe (1996).