The Good Dinosaur is a very resilient film. Not only in the aspects of its titular character’s ambitions, but in its production. It went through countless issues with its creators in its early stages, as it had many script revisions and issues with the director. So many issues that a complete change in directors was made. It looked like it was doomed for a while. Should it have stayed that way?
Maybe. The Good Dinosaur is a disappointment. It’s not the complete brain-melting train-wreck the likes of 2011’s Cars 2 was, but it’s more easily comparable in quality to 2012’s Brave.
Like every other Pixar film, The Good Dinosaur is host to absolutely stunning visuals. The animation of this film is so richly detailed, and unnervingly life-like. It’s a creative marvel, with all the bright and bold greens of titular dinosaur, Arno, clashing with the deep and mysterious blue’s of the night skies. Another notable piece of this movie’s animation is the absolutely astonishing water physics.
But water physics do not always translate to a good film. I believe that Good Dinosaur‘s major troubles lie amongst the narrative. It’s a story that’s so simple, and so bare-bones, that it’s not fit for a feature. This movie should’ve been a short film. The story line is basically a mix of Finding Nemo and The Lion King, with a little hint of Wall-E, but it never reaches the great heights of the Disney efforts it steals from. It doesn’t tackle the father-child relationship like The Lion King does and it doesn’t have the enjoyable side characters or the sense of incredible adventure that Finding Nemo has. Also, it doesn’t match the beauty of simple, silent moments in Wall-E‘s first act. In the end, the movie is just very unremarkable, specifically in the department of characters and their development.
What are expected to be new timelessly remembered characters, we get the green dinosaur, Arno, and adorable little cave-man-dog, Spot. Arno and Spot are clearly just there to project the theme of the movie and are never fully developed as a character to an extent farther than “We miss our family :(”
The vocal performances of these characters aren’t very good. Now, that’s not to say that they are bad, but simply that they are pretty unremarkable. One positive aspect of this film, other than is exquisite animation is the humor is that there are many brilliant laugh-out-loud moments in this movie, one of which surprisingly included a sequence of the two protagonists tripping on what can be inferred to as drugs. Other strangely brilliant moments of humor are sporadically placed in the film.
Overall, while The Good Dinosaur is visually stunning, and has some great moments, it suffers from a very weak narative that should’ve been a simple short-film, the heavy-handed delivery of its over-worn themes, and a lack of interesting or memorable characters. It’s just a very forgettable film and there’s sadly just not a lot to like here. Even if you’re a huge fan of Pixar, I’d say skipping The Good Dinosaur wouldn’t be a bad idea.