The Good Dinosaur Review
The Good Dinosaur is a 2015 animated adventure film directed by Peter Sohn. It is Pixar’s sixteenth feature film and, although far from their better works, it’s a charming and endearing flick.
It is set in the world where dinosaurs never went extinct, a world where both mammals and dinosaurs roam around together. An apatosaurus named Arlo travels though harsh landscapes with his human friend Spot in search for his home and family. The plot itself is okay, albeit typical and familiar. The themes of family and bravery are so clichéd for the medium up to this point, but I liked how the film states that it is human to be afraid. And I really liked the theme of not belonging in a changed environment. It is very realistic as it depicts the life during that time period as it really was – extremely difficult and filled with many obstacles and dangers. I loved that and I loved how the nature itself is practically a villain here.
But what I did not like is how they portrayed dinosaurs as clever and basically as humans. The twist that the dinosaur is a human and a human he befriends is basically his pet is a great and refreshing turn of events, but I still strongly disliked the fact that the dinosaurs are able to farm here. That is ludicrous and stupid and took me out of the movie. The ending is so sweet and I really liked that they parted ways and Spot’s conclusion is sweet, but something is missing here and that I felt throughout the whole running time. What is missing is a brain as it has a huge heart. The film is never as sophisticated or as unique or original as Pixar films usually are. And despite a couple of strong artistic touches here and there, there aren’t many inspired moments storywise to be had in the movie and that was unfortunate. But I still liked its genres as it is a great adventure film that is endearing and adventurous to follow, but it also has its comedic and dramatic moments and it can be considered to be a kids western as well.
The character development is quite good. It isn’t spectacular, but it is solid as the two main heroes are pretty well realized and are memorable. I really liked Arlo as we don’t usually see such a clumsy and fearful protagonist in these types of movies. But his troubles are felt and he’s a well developed and likable central character despite being annoying at some scenes in the first half. But Spot is the highlight. I absolutely adored Spot! Yes, he is too much like a dog, but that was funny and he is such a caring, lovable and fun character. He is simply adorable and the cutest Pixar character since Boo in ‘Monsters, Inc.’ which is really saying a lot. The two have a great relationship and are such a charming and simply lovable duo that I wanted even more from them how great they were together. Both helped each other a lot and I loved that. As for the supporting characters, well, that is where the film is weak. The Good Dinosaur has great protagonists, but others are pretty forgettable and underused. The apatosaurus family is quite typical in its members and those other animals they meet aren’t that memorable. Sure, tyrannosaurus characters are pretty solid and the pterodactyls proved to be formidable enemies, but even they are underused as they aren’t present that much in the movie.
The Good Dinosaur’s animation is magnificent. Some may find its tonal difference jarring, but I liked that as I think that was intentional. The simplistic and cartoony design of the dinosaurs highly contrasts not only the lush and detailed environment, but also the realistic and meticulously animated mammals. The dinosaurs shouldn’t be here in this world of mammals and that is why the two animal classes are so different in their character design. I loved both of those designs as the hair in mammals is so detailed and realistic and the dinosaurs are so cute and likable. And of course the imagery is amazing as the trees, rivers and overall entire natural landscapes seemed to me that they were from a live action instead of an animation film how realistic and real they seemed and that is a huge accomplishment on the part of the animators.
The voice acting was a bit distracting at first, but improved later on and is mostly very good. The score is also good and sometimes terrific and there were many impressive and artistic scenes present here. The firefly scene is not only greatly scored, but beautifully animated as well. And that moment among the clouds is also beautiful to behold. The dialogue is mostly too simplistic and never particularly sophisticated. The movie is emotional and the scene where the two “talk” about their families is not only heartbreaking, but also the highlight of the entire film. The movie is a bit too laidback at first, but it is still well paced mostly and is overall engaging and charming to watch. It has such a big heart and is so effervescent. It is at times pretty unrealistic, but at other times very realistic which was odd to witness. The humor is also pretty good when present.
The Good Dinosaur lacks identity as it sometimes doesn’t really know what it wants to be. But I still really enjoyed this flick as I found it to be a wonderfully light-hearted and childlike movie that is perfect for kids, but it still has its fair share of realistic and dangerous scenes which I also liked. It is to me a bit underrated as it is definitely not great, but most certainly is good. It is far from Pixar’s best output, but it is still one of their finest movies for children and it is quite on par with ‘Cars’ and ‘A Bug’s Life’ in my opinion.