The Good Dinosaur is a rollercoaster of emotions, as one should expect from a Pixar creation. Tears of joy and tears of sorrow, if you don’t have at least one of these two flowing while watching this spectacle there is something wrong with you. Plain and simple. I say spectacle, but it is not so much the story in itself that is the spectacle; rather the incredible skills of the animation department at Pixar is what left me stunned.
First, however, a quick overview of what The Good Dinosaur is about. The premise of the movie is that dinosaurs were not wiped from existence as a result of a meteor hitting earth, instead this meteor missed the earth and dinosaurs continued to exist. Somehow the species had to find a way to live on this earth and a close-up of this is presented in the shape of Arlo’s family. Soon you’ll realize they figured out a way to survive much like humans did and still do, by farming. Pixar is known to make any kind of object or living being seem human, and they very much succeeded in doing this once again. In trying to earn the respect of his family, Arlo, the runt of the family, has to prove himself by catching the critter that is stealing their food. A good laugh is guaranteed by the time you realize what this critter is, Arlo’s dad is talking about. In his quest to show his ability to work and succeed in life, Arlo gets lost and in order to return to his family he gets help from the unlikeliest of sources.
The story is, as aforementioned, not the unique eye-catcher of this movie. It’s enjoyable, and feel-good, much like any other Pixar creation. Yet it is not revolutionary and certainly not the best story written in Pixar history. What is it instead that should draw you to the cinema to see this animated movie? It is exactly that, the animation. Twenty years after the first fully computer animated movie was released in 1995 (Toy Story), Pixar shows how far they have come in their field of work. The Good Dinosaur is full of stunning landscapes with water features, forests and anything else you might imagine in rural areas. The moment I laid eyes on the first establishing shots I started to doubt whether or not I was watching an animated film. Only when the cartoon-y dinosaurs are shown I realized that indeed, this imagery is computer made. My deepest respect goes out to those creators who made the wind blow through the trees, and the water roll and ripple along the riverbed, and the clouds swirl around the mountain tops.
This craftsmanship should be your foremost reason to see this movie. That, and if you have kids of course, because no child should be kept away from any Pixar creation. While the story is nothing to write home about it, it is again a story that inspires children to chase their dreams and trust in themselves and possibly even more important in this case: to find the good in people.