Director: Peter Sohn
Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright
The Good Dinosaur explores the possibility of what would happen in a world where dinosaurs still exist, after the meteor which wiped them out narrowly misses earth. It tells the epic story of an Apatosaurus named Arlo who goes on a journey of self-discovery and makes an unlikely friend along the way.
Pixar are unquestionably the leaders in computer animated films, and this 16th outing from the studio is quite simply stunning. Using new photorealistic animation techniques, the backgrounds and scenery are undoubtedly the best I have ever seen on screen. The water effects are particularly impressive; at moments I had to tell myself that it wasn’t real! Pixar have come a long way since their first feature film, Toy Story, and the style of animation used in this film is a really good sign of what their films might look like in the future.
It has its faults (I’ll get to those!), but there are moments in The Good Dinosaur which are incredibly sweet and endearing. There is a moment that Arlo (Ochoa) and his new friend Spot (Bright) share on the beach, that has barely any dialogue, but speaks volumes. This is absolutely what Pixar do best. It reminded me of the beautiful opening half hour of WALL-E and that heart-wrenching opening scene of Up. In a way, I would have liked more of this. The visuals, as already mentioned, were stunning, and the score was beautiful. It was the scenes that used this to its best advantage that really stood out for me.
It’s no secret that this film had its share of problems in development. It was originally scheduled for release before Inside Out, Pixar’s best film in a decade. However problems with the story held it back, and it is unfortunate that even though its release was delayed, these problems are still very evident. Let’s get onto that now…
What three things make a Pixar film great? In my opinion, it is a great storyline, amazing animation, and their universal appeal which strikes a chord with both adults and children in equal measure. Well, The Good Dinosaur ticks the animation box, but there is a very big cross in the other two. The storyline is not good. There are so many obvious elements stolen from other films (The Lion King, Ice Age, Land Before Time…I could go on!), that it is hard to see any originality. The story is also overly simplistic, and very uncharacteristic of Pixar. Honestly, if you slapped a Dreamworks logo over the top of this film, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid.
For the first time in a long time, Pixar have made a film which is really only aimed at children. It is not selfish to want something out of a Pixar film as a 24 year old adult; every other Pixar film (Cars and its sequel aside) has offered plenty for the kids but equal amounts for adults. The Good Dinosaur has next to nothing for the older audience, so it is not a surprise that I left this thoroughly disappointed.
The problems this film had in it’s story development are so evidently unresolved, and as a result the whole pacing and narrative of the film suffers. The core relationship between Arlo the dinosaur and Spot the human is very endearing, but the rest of the film is just a series of events interspersed with random and completely unnecessary supporting characters. This takes away from the development of the relationship between Arlo and Spot; like me you’ll probably spend most of your time thinking “ooh I wonder what zany character they’ll meet next”, rather than caring about the two central characters and their quest.
I saw this movie so you don’t have to. The animation is truly stunning, and the relationship between Arlo and Spot is charming, however this is not enough to save this very disappointing film. The story is incredibly weak and really drags in places. Pixar at their worst are still a lot better than other animation studios, but I really didn’t connect with this film at all. It is a very tedious watch, and even the youngsters it is aimed at might come away underwhelmed. The Good Dinosaur should have been great, and it absolutely pains me to say, but sadly it is more like The Distinctly Average Dinosaur.
Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a terribly misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share as well.