The Good Dinosaur
The Good Dinosaur isn't quite Pixar's latest failure, but a misfire of emotions as director Peter Sohn attempts to blend photo-realistic animation with a story about finding courage and battling fear.
The Good Dinosaur is Pixar’s latest original animated film, written and directed by Peter Sohn and featuring voices of Jeffrey Wright, Francis McDormand and Jack McGraw. The Good Dinosaur may benefit from not being another Cars sequel, but Pixar’s latest struggles blending its animation with a story about finding courage and tackling fear. It’s not that Sohn’s direction is completely off, but the film does takes its time telling very little, leaving a forgettable after taste.
The film takes place in a world where an asteroid didn’t strike Earth and wipe out all of the dinosaurs. Instead, they live much like we to today, with some harvesting crops and farming, while others roam more freely in the wild.
Young Arlo is a particularly frightful little dinosaur, constantly faced with fear as he struggles to do his day-to-day tasks. The rest of his family finds their courage and earns their right of passage at some point, while Arlo struggles to figure out what he’s good at.
He’s just too afraid. Fear is something that encompasses him completely. He’s basically afraid of his own shadow. The film tries hard to tell us that he’s not afraid of these actual things, but instead doubting himself and the power that he holds.
And it tries really hard to sell you on those facts, but it does so in a way that almost seems fake.
The film wants you to believe that Arlo changes over the course of the film, eventually ending as a courageous grown up and not that fearless kid that we were introduced to, but that journey feels rushed and hollow, despite the film itself feeling quite long.
The running time of the film is definitely a weak point, feeling far too long and accomplishing very little. Lots of time is wasted on small moments that don’t add up to much, while the film’s core character (and his little human buddy) slowly become…friends?
I wouldn’t even call them friends. The film tries to turn their company into a friendship, but it never quite works. They start the film chasing each other and end it with almost no attachment whatsoever, aside from maybe basic survival instincts.
There’s just not enough actual character progression to sell you on Arlo’s adventure or those that pop up from time to time to help him.
The Good Dinosaur is mostly just a pretty (and I do mean very pretty) looking animated film, with Pixar choosing to give the entire film a photo-realistic touch that makes backgrounds look absolutely stunning and real, while Arlo and the other characters stick out like sore thumbs.
The film’s attempt at a human/dinosaur role reversal doesn’t work nearly as good as one might expect either, with the human being essentially downplayed to that of a dog, while Arlo’s funny figure lends for a few of the film’s better jokes. There’s absolutely nothing more to be found in terms of interesting ideas or concepts presented.
I can’t say that I downright hated or strongly disliked The Good Dinosaur, but I can say that it left me mostly unmoved. And that’s something that I find incredibly troubling, especially for a Pixar film and even more so after the emotional and moving Inside Out.
I’d place The Good Dinosaur somewhere near or below A Bug’s Life on my list of best Disney/Pixar collaborations.
The Good Dinosaur definitely doesn’t have what it takes to be this year’s Frozen in terms of widespread adaptation and it’s nowhere near as good as Pixar’s last film, leaving it out in the cold and alone, much like Arlo’s own fate.
I hope Pixar has it in them to find their creativity and rise up and come back to us with another strong work of animation, but sadly they’ve just got done announcing another half-dozen sequels.
The Good Dinosaur should please kids looking for brainless escapism this Thanksgiving season, but parents will find Pixar’s latest a disappointment, proving to be the film that most people write off animation films as — simple kids entertainment. There’s nothing thought-provoking or remotely deep to be found here, only occasional laughs followed by long stretches of empty and rarely focused character development.