“The Good Dinosaur” movie review

By Jeff Boudreaux

The-Good-Dinosaur-Movie-PosterEveryone has heard the story of a boy and his dog, am I right? But are you ready for the story of a Dinosaur (i.e. boy) and his human (i.e. dog)? If you’re confused, don’t fret, because this is one of the most heartfelt and fascinating films to come out of the Disney-Pixar studio’s stellar motion picture machine since…well, “Inside Out” for that matter. I have to hand it to the creative geniuses over there, making up for their barren 2014 calendar year by knocking two smash hits out of the park in 2015. And, as you may have guessed, “The Good Dinosaur” was the reason there was no film from Pixar last year, as it was slated for release then but completely reworked with a new director (Peter Sohn). After watching and immensely enjoying the finished product, I can only say that I sure am glad there were initial problems with the production (my apologies to the original director, Bob Peterson!), because I cannot imagine the film being anymore enchanting than it is right now.GD Spot The film begs the question; what if the dinosaurs were never wiped out by that oft-hypothesized asteroid? Better yet, what if they cohabited the Earth with the early Homo sapiens? For a family of dinosaurs, life actually mirrors that of generational humans, as Papa (Jeffrey Wright) and Mama (Frances McDormand) live and work on a farm with their three children. Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) is a wide-eyed and gentle, yet courageously-challenged, young Apatosaurus who is desperately trying to contribute to the farm like his worldly siblings Libby and Buck, or at least earn a mud footprint (signifying hard work) on the corn tower like the rest of the family. Speaking of that corn tower, however, Arlo does have a job and that is to simply protect the corn that is stored in the tower. Well, with a small ravenous caveboy that puts raccoons to shame, Arlo can never seem to either stop the feral creature from eating their food or bring himself to actually harm him when he’s captured. When Papa decides to capture the thief alongside Arlo, their chase brings them through the valleys and creeks, where Papa loses his footing and is killed.The_Good_Dinosaur Frightened and alone, Arlo is washed away after a nasty bump and ends up far away from his home. When he regains consciousness, he quickly realizes he was saved by the very same caveboy that he and his father were pursuing! An understandably bitter Arlo does his best to get rid of the boy who pants like a dog and howls at the moon, but after some time grows to rely on “Spot” in order to find his way home. Along the way they meet some pretty interesting characters, such as a group of T-Rex’s (voiced by Sam Elliot and Anna Paquin) straight out of the American West. After some impromptu tutelage on apprehending those cattle-rustling velociraptors, Arlo and Spot find themselves continuously targeted by a fierce band of Pterodactyls, led by the sinister Thunderclap (Steve Zahn), with their sights set on abducting Spot. This poses tremendous challenges to the duo, as their relationship has evolved to the point of true friendship and mutual protection.GD T Rex This movie will undoubtedly have you reaching for the tissues, as we consign ourselves to love and care not only about Arlo, but Spot as well. The unlikely friendship that forms out of the boundaries of hate and fear, between the fatherless dinosaur and the hungry little critter that technically caused all this mess, is a testament to Pixar’s gift for humanizing creatures that can’t (or shouldn’t) even talk. We’ve seen it time and again, whether it’s Doug from “Up” or Bing Bong from “Inside Out,” Disney-Pixar has its proverbial finger placed upon the pulse of a populace that enjoys heavy doses of pathos with their cartoons. And besides, in a Pixar film you just know that you’re going to leave the theater smiling regardless. As always, a short from the groundbreaking studio precedes the feature film, this time the delightfully different “Sanjay’s Super Team.”arlo_spot_the_good_dinosaur-HD “The Good Dinosaur” is an amazingly animated film. The plains, the valleys, the rivers and rapids contribute to what is probably the most exquisitely-rendered computer animation that this reviewer has ever seen. If it weren’t for the characters onscreen (who look absolutely wonderful), this could easily be mistaken for a non-animated film – with its dynamic scenery easily rivaling the work of famed cinematographers. The studio that has its grip firmly on the Oscar for best animated film year after year, outdoes itself this time around, in terms of the realism it has chosen to display. And lovers of Pixar’s heartfelt narratives have nothing to worry about either, as the picture’s timeless themes of love, acceptance and self-discovery firmly places itself as the must-see family film of the holiday season.
***1/2 (three and a half out of four stars)

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