The Good Dinosaur is a feel good, heart warming picture that whilst technically impressive, feels like an average effort from Pixar with a mediocre story that never really stands out and falls all too often into cliches. Its photo realistic landscapes and impressive animation are an incredible feat though but the backdrop does juxtapose with Arlo, the green Apatosaurus who’s animation isn’t at the same level as the backgrounds he’s animated on. In theory, the plot is intriguing and is enough sustain your attention with a juicy what if question.
What if the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs never hit the Earth? What would happen to our planet if we had to share it with the dinosaurs? If you’ve ever found yourself asking these questions, then you’re in luck. The Good Dinosaur answers these as the film opens with an asteroid shooting overhead obliviously ignored by dinosaurs. Told through the eyes of Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), who’s story begins before a traumatic event in his life sees him leave the sanctuary of his home and go off to search the world. Once out in the open world, he comes across a human boy who helps change Arlo’s life forever. The heartwarming tale plays out well, even if it does feel a little safe by Pixar’s standards.
The characters are well fleshed out but the film does suffer from some pacing issues and there are moments where the film feels like it drags a bit. By Pixar’s standards The Good Dinosaur is certainly the weakest of its entries, right next to Cars 2, but to say The Good Dinosaur is a bad film would be doing it an injustice. Its simply a good film and Pixar’s latest feels like its content to do just that. It pushes technical boundaries with breathtaking vistas and backgrounds but the meat of the film, the story itself, is surprisingly formulaic and mundane.
The photo-realistic word and incredible lighting and weather effects are only dampened by the CGI of Arlo himself. Against the backgrounds he’s dropped into, its jarring to see such bright, vibrant colours against the saturated landscapes and its here that The Good Dinosaur slips up a bit. Its great that Pixar have gone to such lengths to make the world look and feel so realistic to the point where its hard to distinguish the difference between real and computer generated but the illusion is shattered solely on Arlo’s rendering. Its even more confusing considering the rest of the dinosaurs all seem more saturated in colour and blend into the scenes but I can only imagine this was a conscious choice to make Arlo stand out more but its one that does more harm than good.
Overall, The Good Dinosaur is simply a good but not great film. Its story is a little formulaic and lazy at times and it does feel like it drags for long periods of time. The incredible CGI backgrounds and scenes are some of the best seen in an Animated film but for all its hard work in this area, Arlo contrasts massively and his de-saturated colours stand out like a sore thumb. As an Animated feature, The Good Dinosaur is worth watching and despite its formulaic story, still features enough heart warming moments to please the whole family. In terms of the next groundbreaking Pixar entry, The Good Dinosaur fits right in near the bottom of that list and neither innovates or breaks new ground, despite its impressive animation.