Watching “Josh Kirby” is like watching a lost series from the Action Pack stunt from television in 1995, where you almost expect it to air alongside “Hercules.” in truth, the series of six films unfolds like one short kids television adventure series, and even for a movie aimed at kids, it’s hard to catch up. There’s so much about this universe, that the movie opens with a five minute montage of scenes from the movie that’s somehow meant to keep us up to speed with what we haven’t seen yet. Really, it feels like filler and an odd place to place such a device when it’d be suited more appropriately for the second part of the film series.
Josh is your normal everyday blond kid from suburbia with a mundane life who lives alone with his single father. He dreams of adventure, and gets it when he is accidentally confronted by evil Dr. Zoetrope. Zoetrope, dressed in a robotic suit, attacks Josh, who mistakenly found a piece of the powerful weapon the nullifier. The nullifier is the series’ macguffin, a weapon capable of destroying the universe. Or something to that effect. When Josh craftily dodges the assassination attempt by Zoetrope, he’s rescued by a Dr. Who-like being named Irwin 1138, who helped separate the weapon and is now trying to keep Zoetrope from re-assembling them. With the nullifier in piece and thrown in to various time periods and dimensions, Josh is thrown in to medieval times during his first outing, prompting him to do battle with knights that ride giant dinosaurs.
He also tries to break free a warrior named Azbeth from the clutches of an evil king. “Josh Kirby” lives up to its premise, indulging us in time travel, and adventure, while also expanding on Josh Kirby the more the story unfolds. i could see myself enjoying movie like this in 1995, as Full Moon at least attempts to think outside the box and throw some fun set pieces at us. There’s a new emphases on the idea of the mythical dragon with the twist that they’re really dinosaurs out of time, and there’s a well staged and edited battle scene with a dinosaur that mixes stop motion and puppetry to bring the fight to life. It’s not by any means a perfect bit of fantasy, but it’s bright, easy to follow, and has an interesting enough mythology to where you want to see if Josh Kirby can get the nullifier and stop Dr. Zoetrope.
The one caveat of “Josh Kirby” is that for fans of Full Moon, if you look hard enough, it almost seems like Full Moon built this world out of left over sets and props from past productions like “Dragonworld” and “Beanstalk” right down to the stock fantasy score by Richard Band. If you’ve seen more than three of these Moonbeam Entertainment films, you’ll recognize the score almost instantly. All in all, “Planet of the Dino Knights” is a nice amalgam of various fantasy tropes that pulls off the intended effect of adventures in time and space as manipulated by evil Dr. Zoetrope.
Sure, star Corbin Allred can be a bit overbearing and over enthusiastic at times, but it eventually becomes more charming than grueling. There’s also a very nice walk on role by Charisma Carpenter shortly before she gained fame as Cordelia in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” As expected, “Chapter 1” unfolds like an eighty minute television show, and fills you in on the next chapter while ending on a “To Be Continued…” Thankfully, the movie is wholesome and entertaining enough where you’ll want to go on to chapter 2 and see what new adventures Kirby and Irwin find themselves in.