MOVIE REVIEW: ‘The Good Dinosaur’ 

Give the Flak Rating: 7.8/10, Positive 

Although it’s no match against “Inside Out,” this cute, simple, and little film is sure to entertain…

 

Courtesy of Disney/Pixar, Via New York Times.

 

It’s tempting to call Disney and PIXAR’s latest film the little train that could, because of its simple and cutesy storyline. However, given its 200 Million dollar budget, this film is anything BUT the “little train.” After having the widely successful “Inside Out,” (read review here) open earlier this year, the second PIXAR film in 2015 is one about courage, perseverance, and family. Of course it tugs at your heartstrings (as PIXAR almost always does) and makes you exit the theater with a smile. However,  “The Good Dinosaur” somehow leaves something to be desired.

The film opens up with that meteor that is said to have caused the extinction of dinosaurs, some 65 million years back. Heading towards the Earth, it seems as if the film would turn out to be an apocalyptic one. Instead of crashing into our planet, however, it simply swooshes across the sky. Now, the film skips ahead millions of years, where dinosaurs have constructed their own sort of agricultural society, and a pair of Apatosaurus is seen, farming.

Ida (the Mother, played by Frances McDormand) calls for her husband, Henry (Jeffery Wright) as their three children are about to be born. The first one comes out, energetic and healthy-looking (named Libby). Then, the strong and tall second one is born (named Buck). And finally, out of the largest egg comes the meekest and smallest one– Arlo. He’s seen as cowardice, finding chickens to be frightening, and is taunted by his two brothers. As years pass, Libby and Buck have proven their self-wroth and competence through “making their mark.” (Creating a footprint against the wall). However, Arlo is still seen running away from the chickens. One night, his father tries to help Arlo “make his mark” by giving him the duty of catching the critter who had been eating their food supply. Although the critter gets caught, Arlo sets him free, and the wrathful father pulls Arlo along, chasing after the critter despite the heavy downpour. As they walk along the riverside, a massive mudslide swallows Henry.

Mourning, the family continues on with their tasks, and one day, Arlo encounters that critter who was the cause of his father’s death. Attempting to kill the boy, once and for all, Arlo chases him, until he falls into the same river in which Henry died. The knocked-out Arlo later wakes up by the shore, and realizing that his home seems to be nowhere in sight, goes on a rigorous journey, heading back to his family. Along the way, he develops a friendship with the “critter” boy and encounters many situations in which he has to test himself, overcoming fears and difficulties.

Though it has breathtaking animation and a touching message, “The Good Dinosaur” is no “Toy Story” or “Inside Out.” However, it has that certain charm that you would come to expect from PIXAR films… The sort of charm where you become transfixed with the film, and find yourself at the edge of your seat, cheering on the main character. And, although I personally would have wanted a more clever and in-depth storyline, there’s enough in “The Good Dinosaur” to keep your eyes glued to the screen.  Some have called the film “desperately disappointing” or “manipulative, maudlin trash” but they seem to not understand that the film’s beauty was its simplicity. It’s foolish to think that “The Good Dinosaur” was trying to compete with “Toy Story 3.” Personally, and I know a lot would disagree, I thought that the film kind of seemed like a throwback to when PIXAR created smaller, less groundbreaking material.

Yes, in a sense it was disappointing. And yeah, you probably won’t buy it on DVD. But you should at least give “The Good Dinosaur” one try… Maybe with your friends, family, or by yourself. Unlike “Star Wars,” with its awesome, colossal plot and scenes, “The Good Dinosaur” would tug on your heartstrings, and make you think about that one invaluable thing, ubiquitous in PIXAR movies: family.

 

-TJ

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