For the first time in the studio’s history, Pixar has decided to release two feature films in one year. The first of which being last June’s Inside Out, and the second of which being November’s The Good Dinosaur. While Inside Out was met with universal acclaim, the reaction to The Good Dinosaur seems to be more mixed, and so far the film has not met Disney’s expectations on the Box Office front. I had been keeping an eye on this for years, and followed it through all it’s production troubles, director changes, and I started to worry that the film would never end up being made. Now that the film has finally been released, I can safely say that The Good Dinosaur is a good, if simple, movie.
While Pixar is often praised for it’s original takes on stories we’ve heard before, The Good Dinosaur chooses to instead make things more simplistic when it comes to it’s story. The story of the Good Dinosaur is nothing new; Arlo, A young Apatosaurus, gets separated from his family and has to find a way back home. Along the way he meets a human caveboy named Spot, and the two of them encounter several other colourful characters and dangerous obstacles on their adventure. Now although there is more to the story then I’m giving away here, the film overall feels much more simplistic then your average Pixar film, but what makes the film work is it’s characters and it’s setting. The Good Dinosaur is one of Pixar’s most visually beautiful films to date, and a lot of that has to do with the surroundings that the main characters find themselves in. The photo-realistic environments may clash with the cartoony character designs at times, but for the most part contrast works to the film’s advantage. I actually grew to like the character designs, because while it is goofy and cartoony, it’s also incredibly expressive,which helps make all the major characters memorable, even if some don’t get as much screen time as others.
The film sort of plays out like Alice In Wonderland, where our two main characters, Arlo and Spot, come across lots of these characters on their journey, but only for brief moments. The pacing can at times feel a little clunky and awkwardly chopped together,and that’s most likely due to all the production troubles, but as I said earlier in the review, the film’s story isn’t the highlight here, it’s the characters themselves (plus, the pacing improves as the film goes on.) My favourite characters, As I hinted above, were the T-Rex family. What’s neat about them is that they’re more or less cowboys. Even the way they run is animated in such a way that it looks like they’re horseback riding (it makes sense when you see it in the film) Their presence in the film gives it a real Western feel and tone, which is certainly not a bad thing. (especially since the two other animated westerns I can think of, Fievel Goes West and Rango, have been stellar.) The movie also has a lot of heart, and this shines through during the more tender scenes, such as the ones that involve Arlo and his father interacting, and the ones that showcase Arlo and Spot’s companionship. Pixar has been known for creating characters and worlds that you enjoy and want to re-visit, and the Good Dinosaur is no exception.
The Good Dinosaur never quite reaches the heights of some of Pixar’s more complex and innovative efforts, but it’s still a good family film and one of the better animated films to be released in 2015. When comparing it to Inside Out…. it’s a little complicated. From a technical standpoint, Inside out is the superior film, hands down, but from a personal stand-point, The Good Dinosaur is my favourite of the two. (this film certainly has the better soundtrack though. The main theme of the movie is great.) I just found myself enjoying this one a bit more. Maybe I found it a bit more relatable, or maybe it’s just because I’m such a big fan of Dinosaurs. Either way, The Good Dinosaur is an enjoyable film, and worth checking out in theatres if you’re an avid animation/Pixar fan or a Dino lover.