A gorgeous animated Pixar film with a surprising amount of attitude
Disney/Pixar’s visually stunning animation, The Good Dinosaur, is a soulful and sweet allegory about facing your fears in a sometimes scary world.Introducing our family of five, the Brontosauri of Claw Tooth Rock are docile and intelligent farmers, utilising their size and strength to lead a peaceful existence next to picturesque mountains. A traditional family in every sense, the three youngsters are expected to help with daily chores in the field and feeding the chickens. Buck and Libby, the first to hatch, take to their tasks naturally. The youngest, Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), hatched the timid runt of the litter and seems scared of his own shadow.Family tragedy strikes, and in a burst of youthful anger, Arlo finds himself washed far downstream from his homestead. Seemingly alone, Arlo is convinced he’ll never find his way back, that is, until he makes friends with an unlikely ally in the human he calls ‘Spot’. Their journey back home is fraught with peril. As the pair tackle obstacles, Arlo’s confidence begins to grow, and a true friendship blossoms on the road back to Claw Tooth Rock.
Although I'm inclined to comment on the animation first, I feel I should hold off for a moment. The beauty of The Good Dinosaur is really in its nonverbal communication. Just as easily renamed ‘Arlo’, the film is all about the necessity of change and facing that necessity. The whole film begs you to empathise with this darling dinosaur who’s struggling to grow up. Spot helps him not only on the journey, but also through his friendship and desire to see Arlo through his predicament. Explaining family and missing something you can never get back without words is far more affecting than using dialogue for exposition. My eyes certainly welled up several times.
The film is about the necessity of change and facing that necessity, making you empathise with a dinosaur who’s struggling to grow up.
With that out of the way, on to the animation. It’s impressive. The rain trickling off the leaves, the rushing of the river, the myriad individual blades of grass, the glassy eyes of the bison...the list of crystal clear images goes on. The family of T-Rexes Arlo and Spot encounter are especially great fun and entertaining for the eyes. Cowboys of the Cretaceous Period, their gallop resembles John Wayne at his finest, and their Old West twang seals the deal. I dare you to not crack a smile when they canter across the silver screen. The lighting and shadow effects are equally magnificent, harnessing the power of the golden hour and the intensity of a violent thunderstorm in digital form.
This is the second Pixar film released this year and the remarkable Inside Out was always going to be a tough act to follow but The Good Dinosaur almost succeeds. If this film has one describing word, it has to be attitude. Arlo’s father, Spot, and Butch all serve to help Arlo discover his true worth and capabilities as an individual, and it’s a gorgeous experience. The Good Dinosaur is a beautiful film with a life lesson at its core. It’s well worth a viewing for the whole family.
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