THE GOOD DINOSAUR’, Film Review, December 2015

Today, my daughter and I took advantage of a special $10 per head preview screening at Hoyts Tea Tree Plaza Cinemas of the new PIXAR movie, The Good Dinosaur. It’s the first full length animated feature directed by long-time PIXAR animator Peter Sohn.

The premise of this story focuses on what would have happened if the asteroid/comet that crashed on Earth 65 million years ago, killing the dinosaurs, instead had missed. The plot goes on to suppose that not only did dinosaurs survive further millions of years of evolution, but also developed speech, intelligence and farming practices! Mammals still develop, as do humans, but with the dinosaurs no longer missing from the ecosystem of Planet Earth, their development is a little different that what we’re used to. This film’s particular focus is on one family of brontosauruses and their farm, and then the youngest (and smallest) of the three siblings of that family and his attachment to a young human boy after the pair of them were swept away from the family farm after a large storm, and the story then follows their journeys and trials on their way back home.

The animation is, of course, top notch – as we have come expect from a PIXAR film. The voice talent perform their roles well, but there was only a few actors that I was able to pick out from their distinctive voices during the movie (such as Sam Elliott). I wasn’t even able to distinguish regular PIXAR ‘stable’ actor John Ratzenberger (famous for having a voice role in every PIXAR movie), and only upon reviewing the credits later did I realize that he actually was in it, continuing his unbroken streak with PIXAR.

The plot is a very simple one: Boy needs to grow up from being a child, with the journey back to his home being the device to allow him to accomplish that. I saw plot devices previously used in a number of different films, with scenes that reminded me of The Lion King, Benji, Alice in Wonderland, and even The Adventures of Milo and Otis.¬†However, a number of background points were not up to PIXAR’s usual detail-oriented standards, and I found that, given the quality I’m used to from PIXAR, this irked me a fair bit. One thing I found intriguing was the way the human boy was portrayed throughout. I won’t give away spoilers but I have no doubt you’ll be able to pick up what I picked up on with that character fairly early on in the film – I just found it very interesting that this portrayal of this character was the way they wanted to go.

PIXAR has made quite a simple film on this occasion, with very simplistic themes of family, friendship and loyalty at its heart. And, as is often the case with PIXAR films, often the scenes that have little or no words in them are usually the most emotional. (As my daughter said to me at the end of the film: “I kept telling myself “Don’t do it! Don’t do it……! Damn you PIXAR – you did it again!”)

Not PIXAR’s best work by any stretch, but definitely a film for the younger children out there, who will love it.

My daughter rated it 3.5 stars.
I, too, rated it 3.5 stars
(3 stars for the movie itself + 0.5 star loading for a film I’m invested in, i.e. a PIXAR film)

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David Emms is an electronic engineer, a father, and an avid movie goer.

He lives in Adelaide