Dan's Review: "The Good Dinosaur" is good, but not great Pixar
The Good Dinosaur - © 2015 Disney/Pixar.
The Good Dinosaur (Disney/Pixar)
Rated PG for peril, action and thematic elements.
Starring (voices of) Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Sam Elliott, Anna Paquin, A. J. Buckley, Steve Zahn, Mandy Freund, Steven Clay Hunter, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Marcus Scribner, Maleah Padilla, Peter Sohn, Dave Boat, Carrie Paff, Calum Mackenzie, John Ratzenberger.
Written by Peter Sohn, Erik Benson, Meg LeFauve, Kelsey Mann and Bob Peterson.
Directed by Peter Sohn.
Pixar is back, after taking 2014 off. The folks who revolutionized computer animation have already treated audiences to one of the best films of the year (let alone, animated films) with Inside Out. Now comes their second release of 2015 with The Good Dinosaur, the story of a prehistoric creature who befriends an orphaned human boy.
The story begins with a meteor that misses Earth, allowing dinosaurs to live on and evolve. Several millions of years later, we discover an Apatosaurus couple living as farmers and welcoming three hatchling children into their lives. Poppa Henry (Jeffrey Wright) teaches the young dinosaurs all they need to know about farming, while Momma Ida (Frances McDormand) nurtures her kids. One of the kids named Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) has a tough time contributing to the family farm, due to his irrational fear of just about everything, including a little human (Jack Bright) who constantly gets into the family’s stash of corn. When tragedy strikes, Arlo is separated from the family and swept away down a river, along with the boy (later named Spot).
Arlo and Spot encounter all kinds or perils, including a gang of ravenous pterodactyls led by Thunderclap (Steve Zahn). They also meet a family of tyrannosaurs led by Butch (Sam Elliot), who they assist in getting their cattle heard back from a group of Velociraptor “rustlers.”
Eventually, Arlo and Spot make their way up the river in a desperate attempt to get home, but not before Arlo learns to face his fears.
The Good Dinosaur is a good, but not great movie in terms of storytelling. The plot is reminiscent of several children’s tales, especially ones adapted by Disney (The Lion King, especially). The central villains in the story aren’t developed very well, and the outcome is relatively predictable. Most kids won’t notice either way, and families can certainly enjoy The Good Dinosaur together.
One thing that does stand out in The Good Dinosaur is the exceptional visuals, including detailed landscapes with flora and fauna you’d swear was was made of real water, mountains, leaves, etc. Pixar is still the reigning king of its own cinematic creation.
The Good Dinosaur Trailer