Review: In this year zero of newly-established Pixar’s one year two features campaign, those savvies have already made differences with the patient zero, the Psychology 101 for family, Inside Out—which got released previously and immediately overshadows the second feature, The Good Dinosaur.
As implied by the title, The Good Dinosaur is another animated take on these pre-historic reptiles, which apparently is a familiar face to cinema as seen in Dinosaur or The Land Before Time or most recently Ice Age. Even when handled by Pixar’s veteran helmer and first-time director, Peter Sohn, it’s a surprisingly formulaic straight-forward family-friendly drama with nothing even close to Pixar inventive storytelling. However, it got serious penchant on visuals and cinematography, even with Pixar standards, it’s still an innovation.
In terms of storyline, The Good Dinosaur sounds like a usual boy and pet drama, only this one got a lot of twist. The first twist comes with the premise to set up an alternative universe where an asteroid, which supposedly hit the earth and forced those dinosaurs into extinction million years ago, just passed as a shooting star. The dinosaurs live further than history until million years to come, where they’ve become some fairly intelligent creatures, which knew how to farm and to cultivate land, although their technology is apparently simple.
A happy Apatosaurus couple (Jeffrey Wright and Frances McDormand) live in a farmland with their three little sauropod kids, Buck, Libby and the littlest one, Arlo (Raymond Ochoa). Tragedy occurs, setting Arlo apart from his family in the middle of post-storm wilderness. His only companion is a friend-or-foe feral human he finally named ‘Spot’ (Jack Bright), which in a Pixar-esque twist become the “human pet.”
As mentioned previously, The Good Dinosaur is rather straight-forward along its typical 90-minute linear plot. It serves as a traditional finding-a-way-home drama with lots of good, genuine laugh, like the scene where Arlo and Spot eat a berry that drives them into a trippy mode; as well as tons of tear-jerking scenes, which I think, is really personally touching.
At the same time, The Good Dinosaur also brings a lot of road-trip element into the plot although not as perplexing as it should have been. During their journey, Arlo and Spot made a good chemistry between each other, making them both a pleasingly likable character in the end. Furthermore, some characters they met are also likable—from a cult Triceratops, Forrest Woodbush to Southern T-Rex family—although they’re way too simple. Meanwhile, some villainous characters are also menacing, especially for junior viewers, with their play of words (like “Relevation” perhaps?).
Overall, The Good Dinosaur is quite a simple movie given its Pixar attribute. It certainly not among Pixar’s bests, but its visual is by far the most enticing as I see. Like no other, its bittersweet simplicity is eventually what keeps it warm as it goes.
The Good Dinosaur (2015)
Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Drama Directed by: Peter Sohn Written by: Bob Peterson, Kelsey Mann, Meg LeFauve, Erik Benson, Peter Sohn Voiced by: Raymond Ochoa, Frances McDormand, Jack Bright Runtime: 100 mins Rated PG