Two Pixar films in one year? How lucky are we?! In the new film The Good Dinosaur, we explore a world where humans and dinosaurs live side by side, and when a young dinosaur named Arlo is swept away from home, he makes an unlikely friend as he struggles to find his way home and make his mark on the world.
Let me first set things straight: Pixar is one of my all-time greatest filmic loves. I love everything from the concepts and themes, to the characters and the animation, and Pixar makes films that are so poignant and relatable in our own lives that they are universally loved by adults (well, almost; Cars 2?), without sacrificing their younger audience, whom the films are pretty much perfect for. They make us laugh, cry, and learn things about ourselves and the world, and do it beautifully, and there’s not one I don’t like.
And The Good Dinosaur is no exception. Though the story isn’t quite as inventive as some of their past films, it’s still a sweet, solid tale, and as we follow Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) and his little human friend Spot (Jack Bright) trying to find their way back to Clawtooth Mountain, we meet everything from storm-chasing pterodactyls and T-Rex cattle herders. This makes for an interesting insight into this alternate world Pixar have created; how would dinosaur society have evolved if they had never become extinct? The concept of herbivorous Apatosauruses becoming farmers is quite ingenious, and sets us up for a rather clever film at the beginning of it – it’s just a shame that it isn’t consistently that clever, instead playing it safe throughout the rest of the film. It slips into a familiar journey tale, and though the themes of facing your fears and finding yourself are heart-warming, it doesn’t feel like we’re getting anything new, or exciting.
However, the simpler story is made up for by the animation. The Good Dinosaur had possibly the most stunning animation of any Pixar film I’ve seen; the cinematography of the forests and plains was so photorealistic, and you can see each of Arlo’s scales as he navigates his way home. That, and a very touching (and tear-inducing) relationship between Arlo and Spot, shows that Pixar is still good at the things they’re best at: finding the heart and doing it beautifully.
Because that’s the thing: the Good Dinosaur isn’t bad. It’s a good children’s film. But, because Pixar has such a high quality reputation to live up to, the Good Dinosaur didn’t quite live up to the expectations. The movie being released only six months after one of Pixar’s best films, Inside Out, really didn’t help either, and therefore it seems like more of a letdown.
Overall, The Good Dinosaur is a solid film; it’s not quite the standard we’re used to from our favourite animation studio, but at very least it’s great for kids, with both funny and touching moments and decent characters. Besides, Pixar’s trademark artful heart still shines, giving us hope for future Pixar films. How long until Finding Dory, again?
Here is my list of my top five favourite Pixar directors:
- Pete Docter
- John Lasseter
- Andrew Stanton
- Brad Bird
- Lee Unkrich.