I’d like to preface this by saying that I’m actually a fan of The Good Dinosaur. I know that many people seemed to slam it at after it was released last fall, but I enjoyed it at the theater and enjoyed it equally as much at home. I hope you’ll give it a try at home and decide for yourself if you like it. That being said, there is part of me that realizes that it could have been even better. In fact, at one point in time last year, it looked like 2015 was going to have two Pixar box office smashes. They dominated summertime with the release of the amazingly successful movie Inside Out. So when Thanksgiving rolled around, and we had a second Pixar movie to celebrate with the theatrical release of The Good Dinosaur, my hope was that they had managed to fix all of the problems with the film. We’d heard rumblings of the issues for years. Unfortunately, the latter disappointed at the box office even after having been delayed for so long. It’s delay was actually the reason for two movies from Pixar for the first time ever. Overall, it’s really not a bad movie and actually has some excellent comedic moments that stand out, but when you compare it to all of the great titles from Pixar, it clearly is at the lower end of the list.
The movie is basically “What if Dinosaurs Never Went Extinct?” The concept seems solid enough, and it’s another ‘what if’ idea like so many that Pixar has already hit out of the park. It seemed likely that it would be yet another home run. So, what exactly went wrong? I don’t think it was the concept, or the plot, which is very predicable. It’s not surprising for the plot to be basic in the family-friendly genre the movie is geared towards, that’s expected. It’s a basic story — go on a quest, run into a few obstacles and eventually overcome the odds to find your way back home.
I think where the movie actually swings and misses is with the characters themselves. Let’s start with Arlo. He’s a young dinosaur that is kinda clumsy and afraid of practically everything. You’d think a young dinosaur would be an amazing character to base the film around, and he could have been. However, there’s something that’s lacking with the character. He’s not necessarily annoying, and I can’t really point to anything specific, but there’s just something missing with the character. Maybe it’s because he’s so afraid of everything. I’m not exactly sure, but suffice it to say, that he’s not really a character that you can really rally behind. Spot is the other main character, and rather than having the human Spot be a talking character, Arlo the dinosaur is the the one that talks. In fact, I’d say Spot is more like a pet, and while it did work on a very basic comedic level, I think this dynamic is the second problem with the film.
I can’t say enough good things about the Blu-ray transfer. It’s fantastic. It looks beautiful from beginning to end with fantastic textures and shades of the outdoors dominating throughout. The cartoon feel is perfect and the styles are simple and, well, perfect. If I were trying to sell Blu-ray players, TV’s or anything in the home video category at a big box store, I’d want to use this Blu-ray as a selling tool. It’s that good. I cannot say enough great things about it. The audio track is very good as well, and we particularly enjoyed the fact that even with all of the great sound effects (think loud Dino steps in the forest and the booms of thunder), you could always hear the vocals and background noises perfectly.
Digital HD*, Blu-ray Combo Pack & Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA)
- THEATRICAL SHORT – Sanjay’s Super Team – Sanjay loves the world of cartoons and comics, while his father tries to draw him into his Hindu traditions. Reluctance quickly turns into awe-inspiring adventure as the boy embarks on an amazing journey, returning with a new perspective they can both embrace.
- TRUE LIES ABOUT DINOSAURS – We know – it’s preposterous to think Apatosaurs spoke English. Learn more about what separates the fictional dinosaurs of “The Good Dinosaur“ from what scientists know about real dinosaurs.
- RECYCLOSAURUS – Pixar takes creative competition seriously. Maybe a little too seriously. Watch as “The Good Dinosaur” crew competes to see which department can create the best dinosaur ever…using only discarded items from the studio’s “free table.”
- THE FILMMAKERS’ JOURNEY – Finding your way from an idea to a film takes a lot of exploration. Director Peter Sohn and his fellow filmmakers talk about the challenging, inspiring, and unexpectedly emotional experience of making “The Good Dinosaur.”
- EVERY PART OF THE DINOSAUR – The filmmakers talk about the special animation challenges of “The Good Dinosaur” – including figuring out how to animate a dinosaur who’s really a boy, and a boy who’s got the spirit of a dog.
- FOLLOWING THE T-REX TRAIL – Follow the filmmakers as they travel to a working cattle ranch and meet the McKays, a close-knit family whose work ethic, generosity, and stories inspired the T-Rex ranchers of the film.
- COMMENTARY – Commentary from director Peter Sohn, story supervisor Kelsey Mann, supervising animator Mike Venturini, director of photography/lighting Sharon Calahan, and supervising technical director Sanjay Bakshi.
- DINO BITES – Montage of original animated pieces produced to promote “The Good Dinosaur.”
- HIDE AND SEEK – A short animated clip produced to promote “The Good Dinosaur.”
- The Attack – An idyllic introduction to the family farm is cut short when a savage predator attacks the newborn Arlo. With an introduction by Director Peter Sohn.
- Building the Silo – An admiring Arlo is thrilled to follow along as his father builds a silo for the family farm. With an introduction by Director Peter Sohn.
- Waiting for Poppa – Arlo awaits the return of his beloved father on a stormy night, only to be greeted with tragic news. With an introduction by Director Peter Sohn.
Blu-ray 3D & DVD:
- THEATRICAL SHORT – Sanjay’s Super Team
Just Listen – Trace the development of the unique soundscape of “The Good Dinosaur,” from the wilds of British Columbia as Sound Designer Craig Berkey collects sounds, to the recording studio where Jeff and Mychael Danna use instruments from around the world to create the music. The Digital bonus offerings may vary by retailer.
As this movie performed relatively poorly in theaters, I ‘m actually hopeful that it could be a great seller as a home video. If you have any kids in your family that are fans of dinosaurs (aren’t they all !?!?), it might just surprise you on how much they enjoy it. It’s actually a good movie, and in my opinion, better than many of the reviews that seemed to dominate headlines during its theatrical release might indicate. It’s family-friendly and has a good concept as a driving force. It’s a beautiful movie throughout, contains enough special features that add some value to the purchase, and it’s an overall an enjoyable watch for a wide range of ages.
Disclosure: We received a copy of this movie for review purposes. All opinions are our own.