The Good Dinosaur (2015)
Starring: Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright, Jack Bright, Frances McDormand, Marcus Scribner, Sam Elliott
Directed by: Peter Sohn
Written by: Meg LeFauve
Rating: PG Running Time: 1 hr. 40 min
What if the big asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs missed the planet Earth? That’s the big premise fueling The Good Dinosaur. Which allowed Pixar to create a story around a moderately advanced dinosaur culture living alongside primitive human beings. In this alternate reality, dinosaurs farm and manage cattle, while early, I’ll say Neanderthals, (who science has told us evolved from tree-dwelling apes) run around acting exactly like wolves.
Which I found really weird.
That weirdness is something that permeates this entire production. Like an odd mix of elements and ideas that never really make sense. The dinosaurs look like the advanced CGI versions of the cast of The Land Before Time, but reside in a beautifully rendered photorealistic landscape. Someone will also have to explain to me why dinosaurs, specifically, Apatosaurus, would plant crops near the ground? They evolved to be able to reach high places, so wouldn’t it be more logical for them to plant food better suited for their size, diet and capabilities?
I know I know, I’m putting way too much thought into this. This is a kid’s movie after all. But it is a Pixar kid’s movie, so I was surprised not to see their usual thoughtful approach applied here. I would have hoped someone at Pixar would have at least asked, “why are the dinosaurs farming the land like human beings do?”
That’s not to say this is a bad film, it’s not. I was hardly expecting a Flintstones rip-off after all. The Good Dinosaur delivers a simple story about the importance of family and concurring fear that kids should easily digest. The animation, especially the landscapes, are simply stunning too. It’s just that juicy premise – it’s not explored at all. And many more discerning viewers (adults) might find this overly simplistic dino-flick a little dull, and hardly compensatory enough for all the Good Dinosaur toys they’ll likely have to shell out for this holiday season.
Expect a simple predictable story, and none of the usual Pixar cleverness that appeals to all ages. This film is rated PG, and perfectly (as in only) suitable for kids.
The photorealistic landscapes have to be seen on a big screen. They are so nicely rendered I frequently wondered if Pixar was pulling a fast one, and actually smuggling in filmed footage.
Best Moment: << SPOILER!! >>
The most touching moment comes about half way through, when Spot (Jack Bright) and Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) use sticks in the sand to illustrate their families, including the ones they’ve unfortunately lost.