The Good Dinosaur: Review


Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur was always going to get a tough time when its predecessor, Inside Out, was received so incredibly warmly by critics and audiences alike. Having recently rewatched Inside Out, I can safely say it is a masterpiece; so it’s no real surprise that I felt a little let down by Pixar’s latest effort.

It has to be said that The Good Dinosaur isn’t the disaster some people have made out, and there’s a lot about it that I really like. It has a typically ingenious concept from the brilliant minds at Pixar, which not only imagines a world where dinosaurs weren’t killed by an asteroid, but tells the story in the style of a western. 

Millions of years after what should have been their extinction, the film centres on Arlo, a dinosaur who works on a farm with his family. They tend to their crops, feed their livestock and enjoy a relatively peaceful life. However, when Arlo comes into contact with a cave boy named Spot – who takes the role of the Native Indian in this story – the gangly and frightened young dinosaur ends up far out into the wilderness, and must work with the young ‘critter’ to find his way home.

On their journey they come into contact with T-Rex who are herding their cattle across the country, share camp fire stories and walk across huge desert vistas. Yes, this is a western alright, which reminded me of a cross between Jurassic Park and City Slickers. 

It sounds like a strange combination, and it really is. Yet, it’s so weird and strange that it actually works for some reason. However, whilst the concept is strong, the film is undeniably a bit of a mess. 

It’s much troubled production which led to the film’s delayed release is evident throughout, and The Good Dinosaur feels, above all else, confused. Confused as to what story it’s trying to tell and the demographic it’s primarily aiming for.

At times it’s Pixar at their most ‘cutesy’, and the film feels distinctly aimed at a much younger audience than usual. However, there’s a lot of darknes spread throughout as well and the two don’t really sit as comfortably together here, as much as they have done in the past.

It feels like a case of too many differing voices being involved in the story, which certainly seems to be the case when you see the amount of people involved in putting it together. This means that The Good Dinosaur is constantly pulled in so many different directions, that it never really settles down.

Yet, what The Good Dinosaur does have over any other Pixar film we’ve seen to date, is stunning animation that takes the art form to a whole other level. With detailed, photorealistic images of typically western scenery such as waterfalls, rivers, mountains and deserts, The Good Dinosaur is perhaps the most visually spectacular thing Pixar have ever done. And with their back catalogue, that’s saying something. For that reason alone it’s worth seeing at the cinema. 

The Good Dinosaur is far from perfect, but it still has enough on offer for me to recommend it. It’s not Pixar’s best, but then it isn’t Pixar’s worst either. Despite its many flaws, I liked it, and as long as you go in without the same level of expectation as Inside Out, you might just enjoy it too. 

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