“If you ain’t scared, you ain’t alive.”
It’s hard to expect much form a movie when more than half of the entries on its IMDB Trivia page are all about the fact that it was a troubled production, its original director was sacked half way through that troubled production, and it’s release date was pushed back over and over again. There once was a time when even that wouldn’t be enough to lower my expectations of a Pixar movie. But these days, they’re not quite so infallible. For every amazing Inside Out, there’s a perfectly average Monster’s University and completely terrible Cars 2. But there’s just enough goodwill from the people who revolutionised animation for me to be trepidatious, but still intrigued enough, to watch The Good Dinosaur.
65 million years ago, a meteor crashed into planet Earth, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs. Only in the universe of this movie, it passed us by and the dinos lived on to become the dominant species, some even developing agriculture and farming. .Some like the brontosaurus-like Poppa (Jeffrey Wright) and Momma (Frances MacDormand). They grow trees and also grow a family of three kids. There’s the tough, outgoing and confident Buck (Marcus Scribner), the smart Libby (Maleah Ni[pay-Padilla), and the runtish, scared of his own shadow, Arlo (Raymond Ochoa).
While Buck and Libby make their mark on the farm early, Arlo struggles. One day, to boost his confidence, Poppa gives Arlo the job of capturing a critter that’s breaking into their silo and stealing their supply of food for the winter. With the help of his father and an elaborate trap, Arlo captures the critter, which turns out to be a human toddler caveboy (Jack Bright as Spot). But Arlo can’t bring himself to kill him. When Spot escapes, Arlo and Poppa take off after him. Far from home, disaster strikes, and soon enough, Arlo is forced to fend for himself.
So, 2015 was the first time ever that Pixar released two movies in the same year. And it turns out that 2015 is also the year they released one of their best movies ever with Inside Out, and one of their absolute worst, with The Good Dinosaur. This isn’t just a bad Pixar movie, it’s so bad, it doesn’t even feel like a Pixar movie. It feels like a cheap and nasty, straight to video rip off of Pixar movies. You can see all the moments in the story being ticked off that should lead to the heart and emotional investment that the studio is so famous for, but they just never quite get there. It’s basically just an inferior imitation.
On the upside, it’s one of the best looking Pixar movies ever made. On the downside, it’s also one of the ugliest. The world and environment of The Good Dinosaur is nothing short of stunning. The vistas, the raging weather, the clouds and water. It’s one of the most realistic uses of CGI I’ve ever seen. Then they go and ruin it all by populating it with the ugliest character designs in Pixar history. Why go to all the effort of making the world so real, if you’re gonna fill it with ultra fake, fluro coloured, Hanna Barbera looking dinosaurs?