Monday, November 30, 2015


For over 20 years, famed animation studio Pixar has built an empire of stories and characters by never being afraid to ask the “what if” question; such as, what if toys had feelings, or what if a robot was stranded alone on Earth, and what if the world was populated entirely by toys and trucks? For their second feature film in 2015, another “what if” question is explored; what if the dinosaurs were never made to be extinct?

65 million years ago, the asteroid which would have ended the dinosaur’s reign on Earth misses the planet, allowing the dinos to evolve into talking, farming, and family-raising creatures. On this world, Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa), is the youngest of a family of brontosauruses who is easily frightened. When a tragic circumstance whisks him away far from home, he befriends a cave-boy human, whom he nicknames Spot, and begins the long journey home.

There is an old axiom in storytelling and in the movies that states that the higher the concept, the simpler the story must be. THE GOOD DINOSAUR is a high-concept world in which dinosaurs are building houses, planting and harvesting crops, and raising families…while the few, seldom-seen human beings walk around on all fours, growl like animals, and are treated as critters (evolutionists would have a field day with this film, for better or for worse). With such a hard-sell concept, the story is kept simple much in the spirit of THE WIZARD OF OZ; get the main character home. As Arlo begins his journey back with Spot, the two new friends go through a learning curve of trusting each other while making new friends and encountering many dangers.

It sounds almost too simple, but THE GOOD DINOSAUR works because of the great amount of heart that is injected into the story. This is very much a family film, with the lessons of the meaning of family up front and center at all times. The stakes seem low and the overall tone is very light (despite some shocking twists and character deaths), but the film never bores even when the lessons and steps along the journey seem a little familiar.

The design of the dinosaurs resemble a balloon-animal, which is obviously done for contrast as the environment they inhabit is the absolute most stunningly beautiful and realistic the famed animation studio has ever done; trees, dirt, skies, and especially water look like they were shot in a National Geographic special. Computer-generated animation has never looked better.

Newcomer Raymond Ochoa, providing the voice of young Arlo, does a fine job in bringing life to his character. Veteran actors Jeffrey Wright and Frances McDormand are excellent, and the show is nearly stolen by the great Sam Elliot who voices a T-Rex.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR swings for the fences in bringing about an emotional close and connects on most of it. This is probably the first film in Pixar’s vast catalog which many adults will find forgettable, but will connect easily with younger audiences. It’s a serviceable and enjoyable movie which may not reach the iconic status of Pixar’s past adventures and characters, but its face-value is more than worth waiting 65 million years for.


No comments:

Post a Comment

A few rules:
1. Personal attacks not tolerated.
2. Haters welcome, if you can justify it.
3. Swearing is goddamn OK.