Pixar's latest animated adventure is the story of Arlo the Dinosaur who after chasing a 'critter' away from his families crops, gets swept upriver away from his family and must find his way back home with the help of a young human boy named Spot.
Pixar crushed it earlier this year with Inside Out, which many including myself are hailing as one of the studio's best ever films, but unfortunately The Good Dinosaur fails to make as much of an impact.
The Good Dinosaur plays with the idea of Dinosaurs not being wiped from the face of the earth and continuing to live on, and it's a fun idea, but I think it was dealt with in the wrong way. Arlo and his family are farmers and even though this is an animated children's film, I never bought into the simple idea of Dinosaurs taking on jobs created by humans, it just didn't work for me and unfortunately an unnecessarily large portion at the beginning of the film is dedicated to showing us this, which leads into my main issue with the film; it takes too long to get going. The opening scenes to the film show Arlo trying to "earn his mark" by doing something special on the farm, his father gives him the task of protecting their food supply which leads to Arlo coming into contact with a young human boy. My point is, we should have gotten to this point in the story much sooner because when Arlo and Spot are on their journey and they're connecting, the film significantly improves!
Spot and Arlo's budding friendship is definitely one of the film's strengths. Arlo is at first adversarial towards Spot and for good reason but slowly grows to love him and it's their relationship which kept me invested and Spot's dog like attributes which stole almost every scene in the movie. The two share some really beautiful, heartbreaking scenes together. What makes their friendship so admirable is that the two are very different characters who learn from each other along the way. Arlo is a fearful, timid character who's facing the outside world for the first time and Spot is a fearless survivor forced to fend for himself in this terrifying landscape. On their journey through prehistoric America the two encounter terrifying Pterodactyls, cowboy T-Rex's and a variety of other characters. But it's the quieter moments between Arlo and Spot that shine.
I believe the film's greatest strength to be it's visuals, I was struggling to determine whether or not I was looking at real life scenery in many scenes because of how picture perfect the film's world looks, especially the water which might be the best looking CGI water I've ever seen, it was stunning to look at and it might be Pixar's best looking film to date. But sadly I was never fully invested in the story of the film.
Following a simple "find your courage" type plot line, The Good Dinosaur treads over similar thematic and narrative waters that we're so used to seeing in films like this, I wish it could have been slightly more original with it's story. But it's family friendly, visually breathtaking and genuinely quite moving, far from Pixar's best but also far from their worst.
What did you think of The Good Dinosaur? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @JamesPorter97