Film Review: The Good Dinosaur (★★★)

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TheGoodDinosaur556df0fdac6acPixar offers another base hit for its already stunning performance as a well-oiled studio with Peter Sohn’s “The Good Dinosaur.”  Standing tall as one of the Pixar’s most beautiful creations to date.  A lusciously crafted piece that stands as another key example of cinematography executed brilliantly in animated features.  While the story hawks too much back to past Disney films like “The Lion King,” there’s no denying the emotional and cautiously executed impact the story and its characters possess.  It also assembles an impressive cast of voice work that should surprise no one as each one excels in their own way.

“The Good Dinosaur” tells the story of Arlo, an Apatosaurus who makes a perilous journey back to his family, while meeting an unlikely human friend named Spot.

Young Raymond Ochoa, who voices Arlo helms the picture with gifted innocence and a palpable feeling of growth.  Arlo, who’s small, fearful, and unconfident is visually seen growing and maturing before our eyes.  Ochoa nails every nuance and emotion required of him.  Around him, Jeffrey Wright and Frances McDormand, who voice Momma and Poppa fearlessly engage with the very mature subject matter.  As one of Pixar’s most “adult”-like themed movies to date, there is still a sense of naïvety as the parent dinosaurs attempt to teach life lessons.  The rest of the cast is littered with the works of Steve Zahn, Anna Paquin, Sam Elliot, and more, all culminating in a smorgasbord of raw talent.

gooddinosaur_imageFrom top to bottom, “The Good Dinosaur” soars on its visual elegance.  Using the backdrop of real nature camera work, the two worlds are blended in a most fascinating way.  You never feel as if the animated dinosaur and human are plucked into the scenery unwillingly or awkwardly.  It works in every frame.  Also worth noting is the another vivacious musical score by Academy Award winner Mychael Danna and his younger brother Jeff Danna.  The two come together for a swelling of tears and suspense, all littered throughout the Pixar treat.

With all the positive vibes and words that “The Good Dinosaur” inhabits, the story structure and baseline for our main character doesn’t fall into Pixar’s most original database.  Essentially “The Lion King” for dinosaurs, the film takes queues from many animated tales seen before, and while those aren’t exactly poor representations, you are very much aware of its predecessors.  There are also two or so dead spots, where the film feels like it hits a brick wall.  Possibly suffers from lingering too long on a moment or not exactly going places well enough, its apparent by the middle of its highly publicized troubles before release.

All in all, “The Good Dinosaur” works.  On an emotional level, I felt it hit better than “Inside Out,” but in terms of innovation and originality, it come up a little short.  Great for kids and adults like always, Pixar does its job and does it with satisfaction.

“The Good Dinosaur” opens on Thanksgiving.