Over the years dinosaurs have often been portrayed as lumbering oafs, vicious killers, or cuddly playthings.  With the reinvigorated “Jurassic” franchise interest in the creatures is at an all-time high.  Disney/PIXAR are hoping this interest translates into box office gold with the release of their new film “The Good Dinosaur” which looks to continue the successful and  award winning streak of their earlier efforts.

We first heard of the film almost 4 years ago at the D23 Expo when during the upcoming film showcase it was announced that they had a dinosaur themed project in the works but had little else to say about it at that time.  The premise of the film is that the asteroid that is rumored to have led to the extinction of the dinosaurs actually missed the earth and millions of years later, dinosaurs continue to evolve.

We meet a family of peaceful dinosaurs who spend their days working in the fields as farmers preparing for the upcoming winter season and the birth of their three children.  One of the children named Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) is rather diminutive and tentative and unlike his bigger brother and sister, struggles to master his fear and find a role in which he can excel.

When fate and disaster step in, Arlo finds himself alone and isolated in the strange and dangerous world, forced to make a journey home. Along the way he discover shimself and learn several life lessons in the process.  Along the way he makes new friends and staves off threats, all with the help of a new companion, a feral human named Spot. As any fans of Disney/Pixar will tell you the sidekick is often heartwarming comic gold.

While the film follows a very tried-and-true plot line for Disney films with elements of several other Disney classics incorporated within its framework, it does boast some absolutely amazing animation which include some captivating and breathtaking landscapes.

My biggest issues with the film was that I felt I had seen this story several times before in other films by the studio and that while enjoyable and at times heartbreaking, it felt a little too formulaic and did not resonate with me the way that many of their past films had.  Parents may want to be cautioned that the film does contain some scary moments and there were a couple of children during our screener who did seem to be a bit disturbed by elements the film although most of those in attendance were captivated and entertained throughout and left the theater howling like wolves.

While I’m not sure the film will be a true modern classic that we have come to expect from the studio, it is still a very enjoyable and entertaining film that will be more than welcome during the holiday season for those looking for some dependable Pixar magic.

4 stars out of 5.


Second Review by Barnetty Kushner

What if the asteroid that caused the extinction of Dinosaurs 65,000,000 years ago actually missed Earth altogether? The Good Dinosaur explains what life may have possibly been like had the Dinosaurs still roamed the Earth Living in a world where carnivores and herbivores are able to coexist.  Surprisingly, the Dinosaurs become the intelligent English speaking life form and the human species are more primitive, scampering around on all fours, grunting and howling.

This is where our story begins, a family of Aptosauruses led by Henry (Jeffrey Wright), his wife Ida (Frances McDormand), and their three kids Libby, Buck, and Arlo spend their days harvesting crops for the rough winter months.   Henry teaches his children the importance of hard work and “earning your mark!”

Struggling to meet the expectations of his father, fearful and timid Arlo can’t seem to overcome his anxiety to each new task he is assigned.  Sadly, tragedy strikes the family, young Arlo ends up separated from the rest of his family.  Lost, scared, and helpless, Arlo must find the courage to make his way home.  On his adventure, he befriends an unlikely being, a human boy he names Spot.   Together they quickly create a bond and head out to find Arlo’s home.

What we’ve all come to love about Pixar movies is their ability to emotionally connect to the characters.  Coming off the heals of the wildly successful Inside Out, the Good Dinosaur is a bit of a misstep for Pixar.  It definitely lacked character development with a formulaic and predictable story line. Where Pixar lacks in substance, they definitely make up for in style.  The visual affects were truly magnificent and realistic. At the end of the day, I still enjoyed the movie, there were some funny and sweet moments, as well as suspenseful and heartwarming.  The kids will love it.  Just don’t go into the move with high expectations.

3.5 stars out of 5

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