The Good Dinosaur is a good film. It is not even close to being one of the best Pixar films though, it is far from it. When I think Pixar films, I think extraordinary animated films that entertains on multiple levels – adults and children alike. Films that are true Pixar films are films like The Toy Story series, The Incredibles, Up, Wall-E and Inside Out (which released the same year as The Good Dinosaur). The Good Dinosaur does not reach the heights that does films reach, The Good Dinosaur fits more with the “other” Pixar films, like Cars, entertaining, but not exceptional.
As the film opens, it has so much potential: What if the asteroid that hit earth 65 million years ago missed and dinosaurs were not wiped out? The film follows Arlo, a green Apatosaurus-like dinosaur who is the runt of a pack of three kids. Arlo is fearful of most everything in life and his parents believe that he will eventually do great things. While chasing a feral child, Arlo falls into a river and must find his way home. The feral child comes along with Arlo and together they work their way back to Arlo’s farm.
Some where after the opening 20 minutes, the film slows down and it gets bogged down in the trip home. There are small gems during this period, the one that stands out is Arlo and Spot discovering a field of moles and a run-in with a family of Tyrannosauruses. The film also suffers from some drastic changes in tone. It swings quite quickly from silly to very scary.
What was impressive about the film were the visuals. The characters themselves were cartoony, they stood in stark contrast to the landscapes and environment. The rendering of water in this film is so realistic, one would not know that it is computer generated if they weren’t reminded of it by the characters. When Arlo and Spot arrive at the top of a mountain and gaze into the horizon, I was left breathless at the visual fidelity that was being rendered. It was amazing.
My two kids (eight and nine) did not complain that they were bored during the viewing of the film on Blu-ray. But, when asked afterwards, they did admit that it was really boring during the middle section of the movie.
The Good Dinosaur is not one of my favorite Pixar films, but I still enjoyed watching it. It still stands out against some of the animated children’s films that are released by other studios and is definitely worth a viewing.