Director: Peter Sohn
Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand & Raymond Ochoa
Synopsis: An epic journey into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend.
Rating: PG Duration: 93 minutes Release date: 27 November (UK)
In an unusual move, Pixar have released two films within the same year. There may well have been happenings behind the scenes that caused this anomaly, but it’s no bad thing to have two films released by the animation giant within a 12 month period. While Inside Out was a tour-de force that had critics and audiences chomping at the bit in regards to how good it was, The Good Dinosaur feels a little flat compared to the summers big release.
The Good Dinosaur’s set-up is that 65 million years ago when a fatal asteroid was earth bound, it misses us and does not wipe out the dinosaurs. This “what if” scenario is full of ideas, and seems to be one of Pixar’s smartest moves to date. Millions of years pass and we are introduced to a family of apatosaurus who tend to their farm and live a happy, healthy life.
Momma (Frances McDormand) and Poppa (Jeffrey Wright) have three children; Libby, Buck and Arlo, who have been brought up on the farm and while Buck and Libby soon settle in, Arlo struggles with the physical nature of life on the farm. Having being persistently patient with Arlo, Poppa decides that his youngest son needs to learn some life lessons and takes him out past the safety of the farm.
All does not go well, as Arlo learns the hard way just how harsh life can be. Without wishing to spoil things, it’s a familiar trait that has been a staple of Disney films for as long as anyone cares to remember. It’s also here that the familiarity of past Disney efforts becomes apparent, and that The Good Dinosaur barely has an original idea past the films first few scenes.
It’s unfortunate then, that a film with such a clever premise relies so much on
films that are already steeped deep within the public conscious. The Lion King in particular seems to be a well sourced film here, and The Good Dinosaur has borrowed heavily from the 1994 classic. The Good Dinosaur also seems happy to be sad, in that it forgoes the usual up-beat Pixar attitude in favour of something a lot more sombre. On more than once occasion, you will feel your heart sink as the film pulls on your heartstrings.
However, it must be noted that The Good Dinosaur remains an accomplished film that is far from being bad. It is one of the most beautiful films you will lay eyes on all year, and is a huge technical achievement for the animation studio. It also keeps up the Pixar trademark of casting some incredible voice talent. Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Steve Zahn, Anna Paquin and Sam Elliot are brilliantly cast and add an extra dose of quality.
While The Good Dinosaur labours with its story, it does have two memorable characters in Arlo and Spot, the human he befriends on his journey. They share a chemistry that, at times, says more in emotions than it does with words and theirs is a relationship that firmly keeps the film going.
The Good Dinosaur is not brilliant, and perhaps does suffer from being released in the same year as Inside Out, but neither is it terrible. Instead it sits firmly in the middle of Pixar’s various creations. While indeed wondrous to look at, The Good Dinosaur, much like Arlo, needed a little push to become great.