The Good Dinosaur asks the question: What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? In this epic journey into the world of dinosaurs, an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend. While traveling through a harsh and mysterious landscape, Arlo learns the power of confronting his fears and discovers what he is truly capable of.
The Good Dinosaur has it’s quality summed up in the title – good. It’s not Pixar’s best and certainly not it’s worst, but it didn’t feel like anything totally new. The movie is centred on Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa), a small and timid Apatosaurus who wants to make his family proud but is just too darn scared of everything. In this alternate reality Dinosaurs are basically like humans. They farm, herd cattle and are the only creatures to speak in the film. Humans on the other hand are still very primitive and are considered pests and scavengers by the dinosaurs. The story gets going after the Lion King-esque death of Arlo’s father (just replace the buffalos with water) which Arlo blames on the human child they were chasing at the time. The human child, Spot, has all the same characteristics of a puppy (I guess we evolved from dogs in this scenario) and is, of course, ridiculously love-able. After an accident leaves Arlo and Spot stranded far from home, they must work together to defeat the many obstacles in their path back to Arlo’s family.
The storyline might seem a little familiar and the main two characters are pretty much what you’d expect from a Pixar film, but what surprised me was the freshness of the characters they meet on their way. The fanatical pterodactyls (led by Steve Zahn) are possibly the most disturbing villains I have encountered in a Disney pixar film so far! They are basically a creepy cult who worship ‘The Storm’ as their provider of injured animals and trick Arlo into helping them kill a very cute, furry little critter (one of them swallows it whole while the other rips off it’s tail). Pretty awesome, but kind of terrifying for a kids movie!
The Tyrannosaurus cowboys are amazing and it’s neat to see the old T-Rex getting to be a mega-friendly character for a change!
Complete with a hallucination sequence and an encounter with a styracosaur shaman and his collection of “pets”, The Good Dinosaur has some truly bizarre moments. Even though the story felt a little rushed and the humour fell flat at times, the Pixar magic was definitely still there. Whether it be the T-Rex Butch (Sam Elliot) talking about fear around the camp fire, Arlo and his Poppa running through a field of fireflys or one of the several sincerely sad moments you will most certainly feel things (and by that I mean cry your whole face off).
A beautifully animated, dino and his human dog story that’s all about facing your fears and overcoming everything with the help of others. The Good Dinosaur may not be the strongest work from everybody’s favourite animation team, but it is definitely still worth a watch!