I’ll admit it, I’m biased. I don’t judge animated films on the same scale I do any other. Having such an influence on my childhood they can do no wrong! This weekend I had the pleasure of seeing the good dinosaur. This review is for more for someone who has already seen the movie but feel free to read my thoughts even if you haven't! I’ll briefly cut through the summary, SPOILERS will happen. The story follows Arlo, the grunt in a family of Apatosaurus’ from birth through the end of his journey. The family of Apatosaurus own a farm which is in jeopardy of not surviving the winter because a critter, Spot, keeps stealing their harvest. Arlo being the runt of the litter hasn’t found his niche on the farm yet causing him to resent everyone and lash out. Henry, his father, maintains faith and assigns Arlo the task of finding the critter. In the process of completing his task and finding his purpose, his confidence, Henry dies, leaving the family in depression and the farm in a bad place. This is what sends Arlo on his quest where he meets his enemy, mentor, and ultimately best friend Spot, it’s also where the movie shines.
Now that that’s over lets get to the good stuff. The visuals are the best of any animated film that I’ve seen yet I mean wow. The scenic shots are identical to any real photo of a similar setting. The images are crystal clear, the lighting and detail are incomparable to anything I’ve seen. The voice acting was surprisingly new and it was refreshing to not recognize the person behind the character. A lot of the time these films have A-list celebrity voices, which has its perks, but for once it was nice to hear something different.
Disney did a great job at delivering a story we all know and love, which is both wonderful and a little disappointing. Wonderful because even though we know the recipe the dish is still as refreshing as the first time we’ve tasted it, still raw with emotion and a powerful experience. Disappointing because with such a beautiful untapped universe it would have been nice to stray from the norm and try something different. It’s a world of dinosaurs, of new and unprecedented prehistoric animals and wonders! Albeit we did see some dinosaurs (my favorite included, the T-REX) but they could’ve gone further with both with the characters and the environment. A good portion of the movie consisted of Rex’s herd, “Longhorn’s”, their cattle. They had actual cattle in the movie, why cattle? We could have had ANYTHING else and would’ve known what they represented; a Jurassic equivalent would’ve been nice. Being set in the Jurassic Era automatically created an atmosphere of constant danger and survival, wondering when raiders or other meat eaters would strike at the peaceful vegetarian Apatosaurus family after all THIS is Jurassic world. Granted I’m practically a grown man and not a child even so I don’t think kids are completely ignorant of how visceral it was to live in those times. Disney Pixar are master storytellers. I don’t put anyone above them when it comes to animation, they could easily have created a hostile world that shined with a story revealing the beauty circulating the hardships of life. After all they have done it countless times.
Their story, although predictable, still glimmered with moments of pure emotion. Arlo’s goal was to find his courage so he could “make his mark” and have a purpose on his farm with his family. He does that with Spot. They were always a thrill on screen. Spot being the human dog wordlessly making us fall in love with his presence. He‘s Arlo’s right hand teaching him how to survive and that he wasn’t the only one who struggling with the hardships of life. In one scene they bond over their loss of parents, which for any movie will always hit hard but to see it in such a colorful joyful world really shows the gravity of it. With both of them you laugh, cry, smile ear to ear as you watch them grow and be young.
Disney does have a subtle way of showing the lawlessness of “The Good Dinosaur”’s world by theming it Wild Wild West. There is no authority other than your own ability to be it and surviving was done on your own by “making your mark”. The Rex’s are a family of cowboys tending to their herd and living a life of thrill and danger. The Velociraptors and Pteryodactyls were the raiders and scavengers, feeding on the weak unless put into place. That message was received but could’ve been executed with more creativity and grit.
Overall the film was great to watch. My criticism is more about what I wish I could’ve seen rather than the quality of what was shown. I would give the film an 8.0 out of 10. The visuals were incredibly stunning, the characters memorable, the plot predictable and lacking some creativity. All in all I’d suggest going to the movies, grabbing some nachos on the way in and enjoying the show!
What do you think, could The Good Dinosaur have been better or is it great the way it is? Leave a comment! Let's talk!