The Good Dinosaur: A Review

Well, my life is complete again because I finally saw Pixar’s latest film, The Good Dinosaur. I will never wait this long to see one again; it is just too uncomfortable a feeling that out there is Pixar material that I have not witnessed.

So! Here is a movie review that will probably have spoilers. But sometimes it’s a little hard to tell what qualifies as a spoiler, unless it happens within the last 20 minutes of the movie.

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The Good Dinosaur begs the question of what would have happened had the comet that killed the dinosaurs missed. Well, seeing as how the dinosaurs were the first dominant species, they would have adapted a sort of civilization that involves farming! Obviously! And the humans would be crawling around on all fours with no discernible speech pattern.

Arlo is one such dinosaur, and Spot is one such human. Arlo lives with his family on a farm, and is kind of a discredit to his race because he’s so small and helpless and scared. Spot is an orphan fending for himself in the wild, and doing an amazing job at keeping alive, considering he’s only five years old. They come together when an accident washes them both a long way down the river, and they have to find their way home–through all the scary stuff out there.

I have really, really mixed feelings about this movie. I very much wanted to like it, but I judged this book by its cover the very first time I heard its name. I mean, they came up with the title probably five years ago, and they had to make a movie to fit the name. And it had a crisis in 2013, two years before it came out, where it got completely redone. New director, new cast, new story. So it should get some forgiveness for not knocking it out of the park the way Inside Out did.

Buuuut, if they were struggling to make it work, they should have shelved the idea the way they did with Newt. It wasn’t as if they didn’t already have a movie in 2015! So before we go on to its good points, let’s talk about its weaknesses.

Arlo was pretty annoying.

Which is sad, because he is said good dinosaur. I think maybe if Spot talked, and Arlo’s voice wasn’t the one I was consistently hearing to tell both his and his companion’s story, he would have been less annoying. But I liked non-talking Spot, so there you go.

The beginning was bland.

I mean, really bland. I felt like I was watching a children’s television show. One meant for children, like Blue’s Clues or Barney or whatever is on now, and not Phineas and Ferb which we adults can enjoy. I thought it was really corny, and too calm, and seemed to be just tossed together. Which it probably was.

The berries scene.

It was really brief, which after all I’d heard about it was a nice surprise, but if it was so brief why did they need to put it in? So weird; so bad. So creepy.

Humans v. Dinosaurs

So this is just me being picky, but I didn’t like how the dinosaurs seemed to be a more superior species than the humans. Apparently this was a thing of controversy, but I wasn’t as uncomfortable with it as the trailers made me think I’d be. Someone did a theory on this that showed the dinosaurs were a much weaker species than the humans, because five-year-old Spot could survive anything while big, brawny, Daddysaurus couldn’t even survive a flood. So that made me feel better…but I don’t like anything that suggests animals are better than humans, and that’s why this is here.

Okay, so fewer problems than I imagined! Here is what’s good about this movie:

SPOT!

Oh, my goodness, I loved this kid so much. He’s smart, he’s independent, he can survive anything, and even though he is modeled after a dog, he’s still human.  He understands the loss of family in his case and Arlo’s. Even though Arlo caught him inititally, and yells at him, and scorns his help, Spot still cares about him, and is willing to go home with him rather than to a family of his own kind. And I think he’s adorable, not as much as Boo or Bonnie or Jack-Jack, but as cute as a Neanderthal could be. This kid is the whole package.

The animation.

Pixar has been steadily improving in this since day 1 (unlike Disney, cough cough, Chicken Little), and it’s nice to know they haven’t plateaued yet. Even though this was clearly a hastily thrown together picture. Actually though, thinking about it, the pictures may be the only things that weren’t redone, because they could have recycled that from whatever this movie was before. But it was beautiful, no matter where it came from.

Did I already say Spot?

spot.jpg

 

The scene where we learn Spot is an orphan.

Yeah, I’m finding out that Spot is the only reason I loved this movie. Well, that and the animation. I was promised tears galore for this movie, but the only time I cried was in this scene. We weren’t sure if Spot got the whole family concept that Arlo was teaching him, but then he covered up two of his sticks the way Arlo covered the one representing his father. So he knew. He understood family, and he understood death, and sorrow, and being an orphan. And yet he could still get pleasure out of blowing gophers out of their holes!

Well, I tried, Good Dinosaur. I tried to love you in the way I always love Pixar, and I think I did pretty well, because no one else in my family enjoyed it. You weren’t my least favorite, but you are certainly down there. To the rest of the world, I say watch it for posterity, because everything Pixar deserves to be watched at least once, but don’t expect to be wowed.

But I’m still excited for Finding Dory, coming to theaters June 17! In America, anyway.

 

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