Pixar films have always been about a very simple theme, whether it’s family, friendship, love, loss or all of those wrapped into one neat digitally animated package. And that’s really one of its key points, the animation is a really huge feature of this film ,they have clearly upped their skills as so many scenes looks almost real. They have a way of creating this through animated characters you care about, who pull at your emotional heartstrings, making you feel something that you’re not used to when it comes to cartoons. The Good Dinosaur follows this tested theme and, whilst it does it well, it doesn’t do it as good as the others.
Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), one of the dino babies of his farmer parents Poppa (Jeffrey Wright) and Momma (Frances McDormand) has a hard time completing his tasks around the farm, due to a chronic fear of virtually everything. So Poppa gives him the task of getting rid of a critter who keeps stealing their food. Failing to do so leads to Arlo being taken on a chase by the river and, when a flash flood occurs, he and his father are separated. Arlo wakes up dazed and confused, not knowing where he is and eventually realises that he is a long way from home and has to find his way back. During his journey, he makes an unlikely human friend who helps him to survive the initial pitfalls of being stranded in the middle of nowhere.
When you look at this film from a comparative perspective, it’s easy to see that there are some similarities to Finding Nemo with regards to one of the main characters who embarks upon an unintentional journey of self-discovery. Arlo meets several characters on his way, some friendly, some not so much and one who has lost his way entirely but provides some much needed comic relief. It becomes a test of Arlo’s strength and courage, two things his father wanted to teach him at their farm.
The whole movie has a very western feel, especially noticeable when Arlo comes across three Tyrannosaurus Rex who are trying to keep their herd of buffalo together, away from rustlers and then again when we see pterodactyls attempting to help at first. Pixar have a way of producing realistic voices and movements for all of its animalistic creations. The way the sharks move in Finding Nemo is majestic and the same can be said about these dinosaurs. The T-Rex runs as if their top halves are human and bottom halves are horses, it give the almost illusion of cowboys riding their stallions.
The director, Peter Sohn, has ample experience at Pixar and is very familiar with their working process and what it takes to make a great Pixar film, but it seems as if he hasn’t taken a lot of this on board. What he has done however is up their animation game, it’s impossible to think of another animated film that has landscapes as breathtaking as this not just with regards to their colour but how realistic they are. Sohn has done his research, having spent a lot of time in the countryside of America and on the waters, trying out white water rafting, so his knowledge is second to none.
There’s no questioning whether this is a brilliant film or not, when Pixar come out with anything, it’s an event. This film has several merits including it’s loveable dinosaurs, the stunning landscapes and the music which perfectly sums up this western film. However, it seems they have let the ball drop slightly with this, its emotional moments do not have the same impact as Up or the end of Toy Story 3. With several sequels in the pipeline, (Finding Dory, The Incredibles 2, Toy Story 4) it’s hard not to be a little disappointed by something that may be Pixar’s last original feature for a while.
3 out of 5
Keep. It. Reel.