So I watched The Good Dinosaur…
I wasn’t really looking forward to seeing this movie. The look of the dinosaur and the film’s title bothered me. Plus the plot was shrouded in real mystery and the trailers didn’t entice me sufficiently to make me wanna see it. But, as regular readers of this blog will know, I have a obsession with watching movies at the cinema and luckily for me I do or I would have missed out on a really enjoyable movie.
Okay, basic plot: Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) is the youngest of three siblings living on a farm together with his parents, Papa Henry (Jeffrey Wright) and Momma Ida (Frances McDormand). Arlo has a crippling fear of almost everything and this leads to him feeling ostracised from his family and wondering if he’ll ever earn their respect. One day Arlo falls into the river, outside his farm, and is swept away far from his family. He must now embark on a daring adventure to make his way back home, along with the help of a human caveboy named Spot (Jack Bright).
This movie is fantastic! Or should I say the films it’s based on are fantastic? There are several times when this movie does a Lion King/Finding Nemo impersonation. So I wouldn’t say it’s original but I always think that if you can’t be original at least be a fun ride; and this film certainly is that. This is a fun movie to watch! It doesn’t quite have the typical range of a Pixar movie and is almost exclusively made for young children. Where a typical Pixar movie would handle elaborate themes with subtlety and symbolism, this film just spells it out for you. It simplifies the majority (if not the entirety) of its plot and themes and makes them incredibly accessible for children. That being said, this is still a film that adults can enjoy. It is a little bit on-the-nose at times and has almost zero mystery to it but it is still entertaining.
I loved how focused the narrative in this film is. The Good Dinosaur is just over an hour and a half long – which in today’s filmmaking world is something akin to a short movie. This film has zero bloat or filler scenes and gets to the point with refreshing pace. Don’t worry, this film isn’t rushed – its events are told in a logical way with enough time given for you to process them. Director, Peter Sohn and screenwriter, Meg LeFauve, don’t beat around the bush. They get to the crux of the matter quickly and efficiently and produce a well-paced, highly-engaging story. This film has plenty of moments of humour, heart and emotional poignancy; but it never produces the raucous laughter or unexpected tears of a typical Pixar film. This is a Disney-Pixar film and I think Disney tend to have far less finesse in the way they handle certain themes. Their approach is more blunt and direct and this works well for kids because it takes less to make a kid cry than an adult.
My fears about this film’s visual style were completely unfounded. This film’s animation is superb. There’s great attention to detail and there were moments where I wondered whether I was watching live-action footage or animation. The way the scenery and backgrounds are rendered is truly amazing. The animation team behind this film truly do a great job and transport you to an immersive and captivating world.
Overall, The Good Dinosaur is more than I expected. It’s a coming of age story that’s told with some real humour and fun. Yes, it borrows heavily from Pixar and Disney’s earlier work, respectively, but it does so with real class. If you have a young child this is a great film for them to see and if you have an overactive inner-child, they’ll definitely enjoy this too. It’s worth watching 7/10. Actually scratch that, this film is so well animated, I’m going to give it an 8/10