In a film that might otherwise be considered one of Pixar’s low-points in terms of original narrative and dynamic characters, the world of “The Good Dinosaur” steals the show. Meticulously detailed, this world is brimming with color, life, and believability. At certain points, I wished I could pause the film and absorb the screen to find every single detail that Pixar lovingly dotted the landscape with.
From the opening scenes of the movie, “The Good Dinosaur” (Peter Sohn’s directorial debut) instills a sense of total awe in the viewer. This is neither because the characters are so complex nor because the storyline is so thoroughly original; the awe comes directly from the magnificent backdrop of the animated film.
While the setting was stunning, the characters felt recycled from past Disney-Pixar projects, and the narrative lacked some of the innovation and intricacies that appealed so entirely to both the children and adult audiences that Disney-Pixar caters to. Regardless of these complaints, the film is by no means a bad experience. Rather, the complaints stem from expecting so much from a Disney-Pixar movie, since they have set the bar incredibly high in the past.
Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), the main character, is a model for kids and he inspires courage and determination as he goes on an unexpected journey that ultimately dispels him of his fear. Spot (Jack Bright), the human boy, is charming and cute on the surface, yet his character also raises many questions about human nature and the need for human connection.
The coming-of-age narrative is quite formulaic, but nonetheless true for young audiences. Themes of overcoming one’s fear and the importance of family are woven into something timeless. Some of the most touching and emotional scenes involve family in some capacity, and Disney has not lost its talent for creating an emotional response in the viewer.
“The Good Dinosaur” is a solid 4 out of 5 stars. It’s not a film to be passed up at the theater, especially if you have a young child in your life to bring to the show. The stunning visuals of the setting alone make the experience worthwhile.