REVIEW: The Good Dinosaur

21 03 2016

Pixar charted course for a brave new world in 2015 by creatively mapping out the mind in “Inside Out.” Oh, and they also released “The Good Dinosaur.” Perhaps in a different context, the film might feel like less of an afterthought for the animation studio. In reality, though, this lovably sweet movie is roughly on par with “Brave” or “Monsters University.”

If the 2015 Pixar films were siblings, then it could be said that “Inside Out” got the brains and “The Good Dinosaur” got the looks. The former seems to have hoarded the brain trust and story department, while the latter monopolized the visual technicians. Neither severely lacks in one area – though their strengths are definitely distinct. “The Good Dinosaur” probably represents some of Pixar’s most photorealistic animation to date; several scenes looked as authentic as Disney’s 2000 film “Dinosaur,” which placed CGI creatures in scenes shot by real cameras.

While the trademark Pixar creativity and ingenuity might not be on vivid display in the film, at least they got that same heart. “The Good Dinosaur” refers to Arlo, an apatosaurus who was the runt of his litter and thus struggles to prove himself among his more able-bodied siblings. He makes for a true underdog, yet the Pixar team somehow finds a way around the lazy assumption that audiences will just automatically rally behind his improbable journey which has become de rigueur in filmmaking these days.

No matter toys, robots or emotions, Pixar finds the humanity in each of their characters. This truth is especially ironic in “The Good Dinosaur” given that the dinosaur is the loquacious one and the human is the non-verbal, primal creature. The film takes place in an alternate reality where the big meteor that scientists believe wiped out the dinosaurs failed to make impact, allowing humans and dinosaurs to coexist. A little silly, sure, but the gambit works for plot purposes as the young feral caveboy Spot becomes necessary for Arlo to find his way home after getting separated from his family. As it turns out, the uncivilized and the civilized have something to offer each other after all.

Their adventures might not reach the heights of previous Pixar classics, but “The Good Dinosaur” is still authentically sweet and truly genuine through and through. Even outside of their game changers, Pixar’s indisputable charm is still worth the time to experience and enjoy. B2halfstars

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One response

23 03 2016
Sean

I enjoyed this movie. For most other studios making an animated movie this good would have been a big deal. As you said, for Pixar it’s almost an afterthought. Hopefully people don’t overlook it as a result.

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