Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Good Dinosaur Review

The Good Dinosaur, 3/11/17, 4.5 Stars.
The good dinosaur movie that could have been great if Pixar had seized the opportunity to make a Zootopia-like movie where dinosaurs and humans lived together. Guess not. What we do get, is a loving, albeit a bit overly sentimental, family movie. We start with Henry the Apatosaurus (Jeffrey Wright) tending to his field, later joined by his wife Ida (Frances McDormand) in a montage that shows the farm grow, followed by their family: Buck (Marcus Scribner), Libby (Maleah Padilla) and our main protagonist Arlo (Raymond Ochoa). In a montage of them growing into tweenagers (approximation) in dino years, each of them makes their mark on the silo. Except Arlo, because he is tiny compared to his brother and sister. Not comically tiny, but still the runt of the litter. One night, his poppa gives him the chance to make his mark by killing whatever beast is stealing their crops. After a failed attempt, they go out to Liam Neeson the pest, and what follows is a journey of self-discovery and self-confidence-building for Arlo and Spot (Jack Bright), as they meet a variety of dinosaurs. The story is told coherently with montages filling in long spaces of time that show their bonding, and it avoids montage-scene-montage, repeat, it just flows smoothly in its 95-minute runtime and ties up loose ends (a rarity in Hollywood these days). Arlo and Spot are the focus here, and they are well-developed in their journey together, and relatable because of the universal human theme of fear. And to compliment the story is beautiful animation that looks so much like live-action, I sometimes wonder if this was a CGI/Live-Action hybrid like Disney’s 2000 dinosaur movie, simply titled Dinosaur. Thankfully not, because it still feels like a world Arlo and Spot would believably inhabit. My only qualm is with them consuming mushrooms and sending us on Pixar’s first drug trip. Did we really need that? Was it absolutely necessary to have them bond? Maybe it’s just me, but I feel strongly about it being there. That aside, Mychael and Jeff Danna’s soundtrack worked with the Western-style setting and characters like the T-Rex cattle wranglers Arlo and Spot meet, and it’s used most appropriately there. Finally, The Good Dinosaur has a good sense of humor (minus the mushrooms) and is a good, (slightly) clean family movie that pulls at the heartstrings.

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