Winning Best Home Video Presentation of the 1995 Annies, "The Time of the Great Giving" is the third installment of the Land Before Time series. For some reason, it was originally supposed to be #4, but was pushed forward one year. Maybe Roy Allen Smith just wanted to save best for last. One way or another, this is still a great addition to the franchise.
The film begins in a similar way to the opening of the first movie, with the same sweeping score and the same calm note, underwater. The animation's cool wavy effects and the silent ancient creatures give a great feel for the setting to those who are starting the series with this installment.
In the Great Valley, Littlefoot, Cera, Petrie, Ducky, and Spike have constantly been getting bullied by a trio of adolescent dinosaurs: a hypsilophodon named Hyp, a nodosaurus named Nod, and a muttaburrasaurus named Mutt.
So on this evening, a meteor shower impacts near the Great Valley and causes an explosion in the Mysterious Beyond. Fortunately, no one is injured severely. But the next day, the Great Valley dinosaurs wake up to find the Thundering Falls, their main supply of water, drying up. The increasing lack of water causes conflicts between the adults. Considering his species the wisest (even singing a whole song about it), Cera's dad is insistent that he make the drinking arrangements. He becomes so conceited that he gets unreasonable. In fact, he accuses Littlefoot of wasting water when he gets sprayed by a splash caused by the bullies, who hightail it out of there to not be noticed. Despite the fact that the gang had no knowledge of the water problem, Cera's dad cites Littlefoot as a bad influence and forbids Cera to be around him. To bring an end to all the bickering, Cera sneaks out with the others to set out on a water hunt of their own.
One of the most graphically stunning sequences in the movie, the animation of this wildfire fire that spreads through the Great Valley is dazzling and the score is appropriately alarming for the situation, sounding much like that of the Firebird stage from Fantasia 2000.
"Kids Like Us", is the best song in the movie. While the other two have great instrumentals, their lyrics aren't very top notch. This one is very meaningful, if somewhat preachy, and hopefully will show children how to deal with bullying.
The only real issue with this movie is that it kind of makes it seem like children are always the ones with the solution to a problem while the adults are just helpless and argumentative. This movie could have benefited more by encouraging children to always seek adults' help. Even so, it's better than "The Great Valley Adventure", as it deals with the grown ups as much as the kids, and it offers great messages for both children and parents of cooperation and preventing bullying.
The storyline, though formulaic, is pretty well-developed, and though the kids' dialogue is juvenile, that isn't so much a bad thing when working with characters who are still very young. Kids will be kids. The action scenes are sufficiently entertaining, the animation is outstanding, and Michael Tavera's score is most beautiful here, making for a fine addition to the Land Before Time canon.
8/10 for "The Land Before Time III: The Time of the Great Giving".