The Good Dinosaur

The Good Dinosaur [2015] is the latest animated tale from Pixar Studios. It’s directed by Peter Sohn and follows the journey of a lonely dinosaur named Arlo as he makes his way back home with his new found companion- a human child.

The Pixar Exhaustion. Back a few years ago, if you uttered the words ‘Pixar’, there would have been an overwhelmingly positive response; and for good reason. Pixar has created some of the best-animated films of all time and until recently, they haven’t made too many missteps. Sure, Brave and Cars 2 were pretty lackluster, and the studio (and every other studio in the west) has of late started an over-reliance on sequels and nostalgia for their projects. Until earlier this year when they released the masterpiece that was Inside Out- arguably one of their biggest thematic accomplishments and also one of the biggest blockbusters of the year with the film resonating with critics and audiences alike and making a worldwide total of nearly 900 million dollars. Then along comes The Good Dinosaur, which along with Inside Out, had a pretty troublesome production up to its release. However, unlike Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur’s production woes are extremely evident.

Gorgeous beyond belief. One of the most positive aspects of the film is how top-notch the film looks in terms of visuals and CGI rendering. The landscapes are perfectly rendered to the point where the world our characters are living in feels completely real. From the snow covered mountaintops, to the drops of dew that hit the short blades of grass on the ground. It’s a crowning achievement and is a major step forward when it comes to how engrossed one can become during an animated picture. It’s a completely immersive experience we’ve never really had with a Pixar film yet.

Been there, done that. Unfortunately, the story the film tells isn’t nearly as interesting as the visuals of the film are. The film samples story elements from various other (greater) films like it. Ice Age, The Croods, and even E.T. come to mind. Using other films as a reference point isn’t necessarily always a bad thing, as long as the film feels fresh and it doesn’t hit the same direct points, whichDinosaur, unfortunately, doesn’t do. It hits the same beats as all those other films and doesn’t hit them nearly as well as those initial films do.

Emotionally hollow. Like most other Pixar films, there is always an emotional undertone to the film, and while The Good Dinosaur definitely attempts to do the same- it never really works. We never get an actual sense of the friendship between Arlo and the human child; so when the film wraps up to a semi-sweet ending, we don’t know enough about the two to really care, much less shed tears over it.

Another mild misstep from Pixar. Unfortunately because of how perfect Inside Out was, and because The Good Dinosaur is just alright- the film just doesn’t really stick in your mind as something truly noteworthy. Instead, the film is just another slight misstep for Pixar and not something magical that the visuals and the trailers presented it out to be.

The Good Dinosaur is a gorgeously rendered yet blandly told tale.