Two Pixar movies in one year, how lucky are we? After the quite sublime Inside Out that graced our screens this summer, we're now treated to another original movie, The Good Dinosaur. The premise when it was first announced was certainly very interesting, asking what would happen if the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs had instead completely missed Earth? Set millions of years after the cataclysmic event never happened, The Good Dinosaur follows Arlo, an Apatosaurus who is the runt of his litter, struggling to prove his worth on the family farm. After he accidentally falls into a nearby river and is washed far downstream, Arlo must learn to survive and find his way back to his family. Fortunately, he finds an unlikely ally in the form of a feral human boy named Spot, and together they face the harsh wilderness.
I'll start off by saying this movie looks absolutely amazing. I wouldn't expect anything less from Pixar, but the visuals are top notch. Trees, clouds, animals, expressions, they're all flawless, and the water is the best I've ever seen in an animated movie. All of the character roles are very well voiced as well. Although there's not a wide array of characters, everyone fits their part, and there is particular praise to be given to the voice of Arlo, Raymond Ochoa, who did an astounding job at only 14 years old.
So it looks good, it sounds good, but how is the movie overall? Well, it's very enjoyable. The characters are well written, despite some only having a small portion of screen time, and there are some genuinely funny moments when they pop up. There's also an abundance of action scenes that are very well put together and provide a real sense of dread at several points throughout. The relationship formed between Arlo and Spot is uniquely touching, and there's a particularly poignant scene not too far in where they communicate beautifully. But for everything it does right, I feel that there is a little less magic in The Good Dinosaur than in other Pixar movies. It's perhaps a little too formulaic, there are no real surprises, and the concept isn't as fleshed out as I feel it could be. Don't get me wrong, I certainly came out of the cinema satisfied with what I saw, this is still a great film, but having grown up with wonderfully executed concepts like Toy Story, Monsters Inc. and The Incredibles, The Good Dinosaur just doesn't quite live up to that standard. Maybe I've been too spoiled, but as I said, it certainly didn't ruin my enjoyment of the movie, I was just left with a nagging feeling that it could have been that little bit more. Still, this is probably the best family movie that will be out this festive season, and it's definitely worth a watch.
My rating: 4/5