Starring: Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand
Director: Peter Sohn
Running Time: 100 mins
The Good Dinosaur is an American film about a young dinosaur, Arlo, who, after being whisked away from his home, embarks on an epic journey of self-discovery along with a new friend, a young human boy named Spot.
This is a cute film, and one that will definitely be entertaining to its target audience, which is kids between the ages of 3 and 8. However, for anyone over that age (and yes, most 9 year olds will probably even think this is a bit stupid), it’s a excessively simplified affair, with an extremely plain story, a lack of great humour or strong emotion, or anything that would mark this as a film by Pixar, the studio that has made so many iconic animated films that absolutely anyone can enjoy.
Before we get into why this film is a bit of a disappointment, however, I have to say that it is, and is meant to be, a movie for young kids. This isn’t like the emotionally deep and compelling classics like Finding Nemo, Up and Inside Out, it’s just a textbook adventure story, with a nice, fun character at the centre, so it will entertain the kids.
However, that’s all that you can really say to defend this film, because it really is nowhere near that high standards that we know Pixar are capable of, and that’s why it can’t hide behind the defence of being ‘just a kids’ movie’.
The main issue, by a country mile, is how simple the story is. There is no real sense of genuine peril for our heroes as they travel far across the land, and nor is there any interesting insight into this world where dinosaurs still roam, after they weren’t made extinct by the asteroid.
Instead, the film takes the premise in a very dull direction, and personifies the dinosaurs way too much, making it no different to any movie about humans. Although Pixar have done that with other animals in films such as Finding Nemo, they at least provided a different take on the world through the eyes of those animals, which provided for some good comedy and a bit more interest, whereas the world of these dinosaurs is nothing different.
Also, the film lacks an emotional power to it that could have saved it from being so dull. Again, it’s targeted more at younger kids, but it still clearly tries hard to tug at your heartstrings, but I felt so completely removed from any sense of emotion in the film, making it even more dull to watch. And when you then couple that with the fact that this isn’t really that funny (not even the kids were laughing out loud at some of the jokes), this becomes a much more disappointing film to watch.
Finally, let’s talk about the animation. Normally with Pixar, it’s a foregone conclusion, but this time round, it’s not. The scenic backgrounds are all absolutely gorgeous, and look as close to real life as you can get with animation, but the design of the dinosaurs as these more cartoonish things makes them stick out like a sore thumb, and it’s just another detail that removes you further from getting into the story.
Overall, The Good Dinosaur is a film that young kids will find enjoyment in, but its lack of emotion and an interesting story make this so much more generic than what we know Pixar can do, and that’s why it gets a 6.4 from me.