Pixar’s latest movie hits home media today, so you can follow Arlo and Spot as they make their way back home. We watched it and all the bonus features, so check out my review below.
The film quickly introduces the concept of an Earth where dinosaurs never went extinct, and humans and other mammals are beginning to co-exist. Dinosaurs have also developed agriculture and farming. Very quickly we see young apatosaurus Arlo struggle to keep up with his family, as well as with nervousness and a lack of courage. It’s not too long before he finds himself lost in the wild, far from his home, searching for his way back. He meets up with Spot, a young caveboy, who acts more like a dog.
The backgrounds and nature elements are amazing. The water and leaves and trees and clouds are all very photo realistic. At first the cartoony dinosaurs contrast with the photo-realism of the environment, but quickly you see that the contrast gives a platform for the story and emotion. Like Wall-E there is very little dialogue and the character interactions are dependent on expressions and body language.
Inside Out really threw some emotional punches and made our entire theater audience cry (in a good way), more than once, and featured a few tense moments that made my son squirm a bit. The Good Dinosaur never really pushed the anxiousness to that level. While the peril is a little lighter, there are still great moments of joy, and just a few tears. My son was cracking up at several of the slapstick gags. He loved brother Butch and his whacking stick, and the sequence with the groundhogs the most. There are some real great moments between Arlo and Spot as they both open up and grow.
Overall we enjoyed the movie. I really find character development important in any film, and I enjoyed that we could all watch this without worrying about our young son getting upset. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t have as in-your-face action like Big Hero 6, or quotably funny dialogue as Wreck-It Ralph. But it has its own heart, and a story to tell. And by the end, we watch Spot learn to trust, and Arlo learn to be brave. But you’re not hit over the head with it.
There’s an ample set of bonus features you can watch with the entire family. Our favorite one was Recyclosaurus which is a brief featurette about a friendly competition the filmmakers at Pixar joined in on. With limited discarded materials and just a roll of duct tape, individual teams (Editing, vs Animation, vs Lighting, etc) had to create a dinosaur sculpture and win the popular vote of other Pixar employees. It was great seeing the creativity and camaraderie. We also loved the story about the rancher family that hosted the Pixar artists as they learned to move a herd of cows. I gotta stop watching some of these behind-the-scenes features, it always makes me want to abandon my government job and find a way to work at Pixar.
The deleted scenes were in rough animatic form, but my eight year old really enjoyed seeing the additional moments that could have been, but were cut from the final feature. I wasn’t sure if my son would sit through the rough level of animation, but he was right there in it, laughing and talking with us about how they’d fit into the story.
The Dinobites were quick little shorts, like napkin doodles and gags the animators wanted to fit in. We also enjoyed the Fact or Fiction segment that briefly explained some scientific aspects that were artistically omitted in the interest of story telling.
The Good Dinosaur is a fun story that joins the Pixar library like a strong and gentle apatosaurus.