The Good Dinosaur (2015)
I rarely review Pixar films, as I have said before when I came to Inside Out (2015) which really fired me up to review. A very successful film that explores a the emotions of a girl on the cusp of puberty. A very relatable film that was both thoughtful and very fun for all young and old. Turning the other film that was released by the studio last year – The Good Dinosaur (2015) I come away very frustrated and ultimately cheated by the genius studio who rarely under deliver on their out-put.
Like many others who are animation fans, who have grown up with Pixar from Toy Story (1995) to the present day I have rarely been let down, its been an emotional journey from childhood to manhood with these film. The quality of the work has improved from the simplistic yet for its day sophisticated animation and rendering that has brought these characters and stories to life. When you compare the two films Pixar released last year there really is no comparison, it was a bald move to release both Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur last year. You can see where the creative energy was really channeled. The detail and experimentation that goes into all of their films has been thrown into Inside Out which really benefits from it, requiring everything to create this complex world of a child’s mind as it begins to undergo mental changes during puberty. I can’t find a flaw with the film and if I could I would have to watch the film over and scrutinise it to death.
Flaws are however aplenty with The Good Dinosaur which starts out with potential to be something interesting as we watching the asteroid that’s meant to wipe out the prehistoric creatures just misses them by a mile or so. Becoming just another sight in the night sky. Then 1 million years later we’re greeted by a couple of green dinosaurs, I think Diplodocus’ who are farming, which really doesn’t make sense. Why are dinosaurs farming the land, having the ability to build a hut to live in and a seed store. Just how did they do that with just their take, stumpy hands, legs and head. I just don’t buy it, maybe the kids do because I can’t see it happening. I get it that they are herbivores so are working the land, but why would they do that when they have long necks and just reach up get what they want. A lot of licence has been taken here so the audience can relate.
Looking at the rendered world they inhabit it feels that a lot more time’s taken to work on the scenery and foreground for the film than the dinosaurs who sadly need a lot more work. I feel that during the pre-production stage of the film they had gone through a series of designs, some got lost along the way, probably taken by one if a few directors who were asked to leave, stormed off with the better designs, leaving us with these caricatures which really don’t represent what the studio is really capable off. All they can really do now is get behind a bad job and make the most of it. I feel that these green dinosaurs have not moved on far from one of their earlier shorts Lifted (2006) which is 10 years old and is focused on Aliens which you really can caricature as imagination is more important here.
It shouldn’t be like that the sophistication of a film that’s released 9 years after a short in 2006 should be of a better standard. Even the short accompanying Finding Dory (2016) – Piper (2016) is more sophisticated and heart warming. Nothing in that short is left out. Set at a beach of sea birds as a young chick is finding confidence to find its own food. Another flaw, well niggle was that the three children that are hatched grown at incredibly different rates, Libby, Buck and Arlo who contribute to the family farm. With the focus of the film is little, literally little Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) who is basically a coward. Which is unfair really but its all I got from him and I found it very grating after a while.
In all fairness this is a kids film but even most kids have more about them then to cower away at the first sign of trouble. The scrawny caveman child Spot (Jack Bright) has far more about him, even though he’s seen initially as the pest who causes havoc on the farm. The caveman boy is actually more engaging and enjoyable to watch than the dinosaur, which just shows how good the film is, or not.
Of course it’s about the dinosaur that could, or really tries at least, it falls short for me in most places. As much as its trying to be a few films, at times it’s The Lion King (1994) which it can’t even effectively reference, there’s no power or drama to the death scene that sees Arlo needing to prove himself. This could have been so much more in many departments, the rendering for me is the biggie, if you spend more time rendering the cowboy T-Rex’s than your protagonist, something is seriously wrong. It feels rush as it transposes elements from other Disney films to this “should be still in production” film. It has heart in there somewhere, if only they actually found it and pumped it up.