The Land After Time
Blending a Land Before Time setting and theme with a typically innovative Pixar twist or two, The Good Dinosaur may not distinguish itself as a top tier title, but is still a solid, frequently impressive offering.Rewriting history, instead of hitting the Earth, the meteor which wiped out the dinosaurs with a massive Ice Age actually whizzes right past and misses the planet, leaving the dinosaur inhabitants millions of years to evolve. Arlo is the youngest in a family of herbivorous Apatosauruses who live on an arable farm, and he’s also the only one who is struggling to make his mark within the household. When tragedy strikes, however, Arlo finds himself lost, a long way away from home. Reluctantly pairing up with a grunting feral child he nicknames Spot, the two set out on the long voyage back, encountering various individuals, making new friends, battling the elements as well as all the many dangerous creatures they encounter along the way, all the while learning something about both themselves and one another.The Good Dinosaur follows the familiar Pixar format in taking a different class of ‘creatures’ and bringing them to life as if in a human society, with the various dinosaurs reimagined as farmers, cattle rustlers, inbred rednecks and outright villains. It’s basically an Old West tale, only with dinosaurs, and as such excels at appealing to adults and children alike. Indeed, it’s a formula Pixar seldom fails at, although despite there being their trademark heart and soul holding it all together, there’s something off this time around, as if The Good Dinosaur – beyond its inspired premise – is actually just a greatest hit collection of story elements all well-covered before. It’s still outstanding work: funny, emotional and exciting, however it’s also too familiar to stand out as one of their all-time greats.
Picture QualityThe Good Dinosaur looks absolutely stunning on Blu-ray; arguably one of the best-looking titles that the format has ever seen. Disney’s UK Region Free Blu-ray promotes the movie with High Definition 1080p/AVC-encoded 2D and 1080p/MVC-encoded 3D presentations, on separate discs, both framed in the feature’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 widescreen.
The 3D, for those who are still interested in the few new titles that will be available for the dying format, is an impressive add-on, bringing the broad and diverse universe to life with far-reaching depth and even some extending-beyond-the-screen gimmickry. Characters and objects are brought to life with a full roundness that gives everything from water droplets and close-ups on plants and skin textures, to stomping herds of both cattle and dinosaurs, that extra dimension. It’s just a shame that, eventually, it will be quite hard to actually experience this in the home.
Arguably one of the best looking titles, animated or otherwise, that the format has ever seen.
Whatever happens to 3D, we’ll always have the movie in 2D and it’s, frankly, a work of art. With pin-perfect, freeze-frame, photo-realistic images, this is a jaw-dropping presentation, showcasing the absolute best that digital technology has to offer, with wondrous landscapes and picturesque vistas providing a stunning backdrop to the events in the film, and often indeed distracting away from them.
From the beautiful green glow of the night-time fireflies to the flock of gulls that scatters into the gorgeous blue sky, as the sun cascades down off the mountain backdrop – the whole image further doubled and reflected in the water – it’s utterly demo-worthy through and through, and will wow you at every stage. Sure, if you freeze every shot you’ll find something to complain about – some light banding betraying even the highest digital work – but there are far more shots which, if paused, would make for precise picture postcards. The colours are bright and vibrant and vivid, detail is amazing, bringing the very hides of the dinosaurs to life, and it’s staggeringly good reference material.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track (with optional 5.1 and 2.0 alternatives) has a hard job living up to the high standards established by the outstanding video, but does its best, and provides a tremendous backing for the stunning visuals.
The HD audio is almost as impressive as the video, and provides an excellent accompaniment.
Dialogue remains prioritised across the frontal array, coming over clearly and coherently throughout the feature, with the various vocal talents (at least those more memorable voices) easily distinguishable amongst the voice cast. The score is sweeping and rousing, setting the New Frontier stage with the Old West framework, bringing tension to the more suspenseful moments, and engulfing you during the more exciting setpieces, providing plenty of material for both the surrounds and the LFE channel.
However, as is often the case with these features, it’s arguably the effects that stand out, with every thunderous footstep of the dinosaurs carrying with it some LFE weight; whilst storms threaten to tear apart your living room, and a deluge threatens to drown you right where you sit. Even the quieter flourishes have been given plenty of room to breathe, from chirping insects to rustling leaves; the wind over the fields and the steady running water of the river; it’s excellently prioritised with each and every nuance taking its place on the stage. Outstanding work, just shy of the near-perfection of the video, but every bit as demo-worthy.
Steelbook ExtrasHeadlined by a filmmakers Commentary which features half a dozen of the crew talking about the production – including the Director, Story Supervisor, Animation Supervisor, DOP: Lighting; and Supervising Technical Director – who discuss the themes and structure of the movie, fans will probably still first head straight to the excellent Sanjay’s Super Team, a 7 minute Short Film that’s well worth checking out (and is the only one of the Features also available on the 3D disc).
The remainder of the supplemental package is dominated by small Featurettes – The 8 minute Filmmakers’ Journey focuses on the production itself; Every Part of the Dinosaur spends 6 minutes looking at how they digitally crafted the creatures; whilst 2 minutes on True Lies About Dinosaurs looks as some common misconceptions; Recyclosaurus spends 6 minutes with the crew using donated items to make their own dinosaurs; and Following the T-Rex Trail takes 7 minutes to look at the real cattle ranch that inspired Sam Elliott’s T-Rex family. Some additional footage comes in the form of three 3-4 minute Deleted Scenes, a 4 minute gag reel, Dino Bites, and a 1 minute snippet of Hide and Seek between the two main characters, and the disc is rounded off by some Previews.
The impressive UK Zavvi-Exclusive Steelbook release not only boasts both the 2D and 3D discs, but also a wealth of extra features, predominantly on the 2D disc.
The Steelbook itself is another typically impressive effort for the Disney/Pixar collection, with a textless cover and spine (which will undoubtedly aggrieve some) and an iconic piece of front artwork – the green dino stencil with a hand print in its body. The green colour pops but doesn’t look artificial, whilst the blue slate backdrop looks like its fashioned from rock. With some embossing/debossing to round things off – for the dinosaur and handprint, as well as a frame around the whole thing – it’s another great effort and well worth the upgrade.
Blu-ray VerdictIt may not be Toy Story, Wall-E, Up or even Inside Out, but The Good Dinosaur still earns its place in the Disney/Pixar collection.
Blending a Land Before Time setting and theme with a typically innovative Pixar twist or two, their latest animated feature may not distinguish itself as a top tier title, but is still a solid, frequently impressive offering that certainly makes for a top tier Blu-ray release with arguably one of the best video presentations the format has seen, and superb audio and extras as well as an impressive steelbook package to boot.
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