The Good Dinosaur
Directed by Peter Sohn
Starring the voices of Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Peter Sohn, Steve Zahn, A.J. Buckley, Anna Paquin, and Sam Elliot.
Yay! The first time we had two Pixar films in a year! The Good Dinosaur was supposed to be their animated blockbuster of 2014, but thanks to production delays, story problems, and switch of directors, it got moved to 2015. Coming hot on the heels of Inside Out, where everyone was going “Pixar is back!” would The Good Dinosaur continue that streak? Or would the awesomeness of Inside Out block out this second Pixar film?
In an alternate timeline where dinosaurs and humans co-existed, we’re introduced to a family of farmers…who are apatosauruses. The youngest, Arlo, is a timid sort, who’s constantly frightened by everything. While endearing at first, it soon comes to frustrate his family. While out on a hunting trip to try and help Arlo face his fears, Arlo stumbles into a swift-moving river, and is soon swept fan downstream, far from his family. Arlo then must conquer his fears to return home. Accompanying him is a caveboy he names Spot, who acts very much like a dog. Together, Arlo and Spot must overcome many harrowing obstacles, do battle with some fanatical pterodactyls, and help out some T-Rex ranchers. Can Arlo make it home and conquer his fears?
What I Liked
This is Pixar’s most photo-realistic film. I’ve been camping in the mountains ever since I was a kid, and the backgrounds look just the Rockies I know and love. There are some clever ideas at play — they borrow a lot from the tropes of Westerns, especially with the ranchers…who are T-Rexes. There’s not much in the way of emotional beats, but what little there are really do hit home. There’s a clever music score, I enjoyed some of the darker turns. And probably the first animated film (for kids, at least) that features an acid trip.
What I Didn’t Like
Ya know how Pixar’s marketing these days seems to consist of little vignettes featuring the characters to allow the audience to get to know them? Now imagine if all they did was take those vignettes and string them together into a film. The film is very episodic. The plot is very basic. Arlo’s character arc is very basic. It’s all so…basic.
At the end, I have the same complaint as I did with Brave: it has a lot of great ideas, but they don’t really gel into a great movie.