Pixar’s latest feature The Good Dinosaur hit UK cinemas on 27th November, and I had the great pleasure of viewing it yesterday (yes I know I’m nearly 2 weeks after the initial release, but a student has work to do believe it or not).
I didn’t really know what to expect from this film – I hadn’t seen much in the way of promotion other than a trailer preceding Inside Out at cinemas in the summer, which managed not to give much away – so I was almost going in blind … and sometimes that can be the best way to watch a new film, with little or no expectations.
**SPOILER FREE POST**
The Good Dinosaur follows the story of a young Apatosaurus named Arlo in a world where the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs never hit Earth, and they lived on. Arlo’s journey takes him across a land unknown to him, where he faces his fears and learns the value of selflessness, and makes an unlikely friend along the way in Spot (hence the title … see I was trying to be clever there), a human.
The film has all the usual Pixar magic with a heartwarming, sweet story at it’s centre. It made me laugh in places and I even shed a tear or three. It was the perfect balance of emotions, very well constructed, and remains a sweet film rather than being identified as funny or sad. It is visually beautiful, the animation is flawless, and the soundtrack is absolutely stunning. The lessons Arlo learns on his journey are lessons we can teach our children and lessons that sometimes adults need to be reminded of – I found there were moments where the film could have been speaking to me personally. Granted, there’s something about a Pixar film that I can’t resist, and they’re yet to release a film that I don’t like (which would be some feat), but this one’s absolutely worth watching!
In terms of Easter Eggs, I didn’t spot one. Now the world of The Good Dinosaur doesn’t exactly lend itself to placing A113 somewhere, so I’m not really surprised that I missed that one, but I managed to get to this morning before realising that I hadn’t heard the lucky charm that is John Ratzenberger! I’m sure there are more easter eggs hidden in the film, but that will require a second watch to find them … what a shame. The only thing I’m left wondering is where this (and Inside Out) might fit in the famed Pixar Theory.
What I did think was quite interesting was the representation of humans through Spot’s character. His attitude to other creatures, his attitude to fear, seemed to be done with mild humour, but was actually very accurate to the way the human race are in reality. It was also intriguing to view the human character from the perspective of an animal, where the human became the pet. It was a clever creative decision because we felt for Arlo – as the protagonist, as a speaking character, and as a youth learning about the ways of the world – but we also felt for Spot – as helpless, and most notably as a human child from out natural instincts to protect our own.
To all those claiming that this film “isn’t as good as Pixar used to be” or “wasn’t funny enough” or even “had a weak story,” I think you’re all wrong. I thought the injections of humour were in the right places and were infrequent enough to avoid it becoming a comedy film. The story was perfectly strong enough – centred around a young character learning about their strengths and exploring the world they live in – and appealing to the audience of children, who are the clear target for The Good Dinosaur. As for the claims about Pixar going downhill recently, I don’t know what films those people have been watching, because I thought this film was gorgeous, it was just right, and Inside Out was one of the best films of 2015.
Perhaps it’s best then to see this film without thinking of it as ‘the new Pixar production’ if you’re not a huge believer in the studio, I don’t know. Watch with an open heart and mind. Get invested. Smile. It’s a beautiful film.