Movie Review: Disney•Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur

This review of Disney•Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur will be spoiler free, short and to the point. The Good Dinosaur was equal parts ok and great. I guess the name of the movie is really the overall summary of the film. Review over, thanks for reading.

Are you still reading? I I went into the film not knowing all that much about the film. This is my new coping mechanism to avoid disappointment from pre-release marketing when the film is nothing like the trailers.

Basically all I really new about the film was what I read in the official synopsis – The Good Dinosaur asks the question: What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? Pixar Animation Studios takes you on an epic journey into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend. While traveling through a harsh and mysterious landscape, Arlo learns the power of confronting his fears and discovers what he is truly capable of.

I honestly figured it would be a derivative of The Jungle Book, but I left feeling it was a little more like Lion King yet still different. The story was complete with some emotional moments (read as tears), but unfortunately the story was predictable. I would not normally point this out, but this is a Pixar film and I’ve grown accustom to a more in-depth story.  I did appreciate the takeaway of going out and making your mark in life.

Moving on to the greatness of The Good Dinosaur – the environments created for the film. The backgrounds looked incredible. At one point during a scene involving a river, I turned to my wife and asked if it was real video. I am not joking; the background looked so real I could not believe it was digitally generated. The true genius at Pixar is the team involved in the background development for the film. This alone is the reason I’d suggest seeing the film in 3D. The level of detail and realism of the film was amplified by the more cartoony appearance of the characters. The was a stark contrast between the photorealistic backgrounds and the cartoon characters was tough for my simple mind to ignore.

When I first listened to Mychael Danna & Jeff Danna film score (Amazon/iTunes), I kept hearing hints of James Horner’s Titanic and Braveheart scores. Even last night, my wife asked me why were we listening to Titanic. I have not become attached to The Good Dinosaur score as I tend to do with the majority of film scores. The score did work well in the film in conjunction with the amazing backgrounds. I’ll continue to listen to the score; I’m not giving up on it yet.

Remember when I said I did not pay much attention to the pre-release marketing this includes not even know about the short before the film. Sanjay’s Super Team was really cute. Yes, I said really cute and I mean it.

Sanjay Patel uses his own experience to tell the story of a young, first-generation Indian-American boy whose love for western pop culture comes into conflict with his father’s traditions. Sanjay is absorbed in the world of cartoons and comics, while his father tries to draw him into the traditions of his Hindu practice. Tedium and reluctance quickly turn into an awe-inspiring adventure as the boy embarks on a journey he never imagined, returning with a new perspective that they can both embrace.

Below is a clip of the short, but honestly it does not really do it justice.

The new trailer for Zootopia attached to the film helped to change my opinion of the film. I now want to see the film where before I had it hovering around ‘I’ll see it on blu-ray.’

Overall, I was unimpressed with The Good Dinosaur considering the library of work to date from Pixar and more so following the awesomeness that was Inside Out. It was good, but not great. I am not sure where I would place this in my ranking of Pixar Films. Short of working out the exact list, I will estimate it to be in the lower half.

After seeing the film would I go out of my way to see the film? This depends. Any other week of the year we would probably not, but The Good Dinosaur opens over the big Thanksgiving week and we are typically go see a movie on Black Friday. On a shorter cruise, I may be hard pressed to take time out to see the film, but on a longer sailing there is a good chance I’d go see it again before it released on blu-ray. For a kid’s perspective on The Good Dinosaur, our daughter had a simple response when I asked was she thought of the move… “Good” Really? “Yes Dad, it was good!”

If you do go see the film, I would not hesitate to go for the 3D uncharge for the pure beauty of the backgrounds. There is also a great chance you will like it more than me.

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