Weekly Review: The Good Dinosaur (2015)

Imagine a world where dinosaurs never went extinct, a world where they had millions of years to evolve, a world they shared with humans. In this Disney/Pixar film, Arlo must discover himself and reunite with his family with the help of a human child.

I didn’t hear much about The Good Dinosaur. It was a concept for a while, and I heard it faced some production problems, but overall, not much. When it did come to theaters, it felt like it disappeared too quickly, and it arrived on Blu-Ray much faster than I would have expected (and without much promotion).

With Disney/Pixar films, a bar has definitely been set. People have expectations. Almost every Pixar film has been a hit, and Disney has its own brand of quality film. When their films don’t meet audience expectations, it can be a massive disappointment.

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Overall, that’s how I felt about The Good Dinosaur. It didn’t meet my expectations. I was disappointed. The story didn’t feel like anything new or original, despite having a potentially awesome concept. I felt there were too many similarities to The Lion King, and the heartfelt moments felt too contrived, trying too hard to make audiences teary eyed.

My biggest issue with the story has to do with the family dynamic being too similar to The Lion King, and to avoid any spoilers, I’ll tread lightly. The film makes the main character suffer in ways that I felt could have been avoided. They weren’t entirely necessary for the plot to unfold the way it did. There was already an idea in motion that would have provided Arlo with a reason for behaving the way he did. The additional suffering felt needless, and it really solidified the Lion King similarities.

Apart from that, there were some funny, cute moments, but as I said, not much original story. Even with the cute bonding moments, it’s hard to really feel anything for Arlo, or his human companion “Spot”. There are some other interesting characters as well, such as twisted, carnivorous pterodactyls, T-Rex that sound and move like cowboys, and thieving raptors that have evolved like birds. Unfortunately, the story seems to meander from situation to situation. I found myself wondering when it was going to end.

While I wasn’t a big fan of the story, the animation is gorgeous. There are so many pretty things to look at. The scenery really sticks out to me. Just the title menu alone is gorgeous, and this beauty extends through the end credits as well. Out of the entire movie, this would be the aspect that I would give the highest praise to.

In the end, The Good Dinosaur is fun for at least one watch, but I wouldn’t say it’s the next best thing that Disney/Pixar has done. Kids may really enjoy it, especially if they really like dinosaurs. Adults will have some fun moments. It may even get you to tear up at a couple parts, but if you’re looking for something that’s new in its tear jerkers, then you may want to look elsewhere.


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