The Good Dinosaur Review
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This year has been an exciting one for animation lovers: a year with not one but two Pixar releases—two releases that turned out to be striking in very different ways. And while this summer’s Inside Out was vibrant and energetic and surprisingly sophisticated, Pixar’s second release, The Good Dinosaur feels more like a traditional animated movie.

The Good Dinosaur follows the adventures of a timid young dinosaur named Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa). Though his brother and sister are strong and capable and helpful on the family’s farm, Arlo seems to have trouble with the smallest of tasks. Determined to help Arlo work through his fears and make his mark, his father (Jeffrey Wright) gives him the task of protecting their crops from a strange critter. But after he’s swept downstream, far away from his home, he ends up alone with a little cave boy named Spot on a mission to return home to his family.

It’s no surprise that The Good Dinosaur is absolutely breathtaking. Every frame is so remarkably detailed and lifelike that you’ll often forget that you’re watching an animated film. Fortunately, though, those strikingly realistic natural settings are filled with lovably cartoonish characters to keep things playful and fun. They’re colorful creatures—both in design and personality.

Arlo is a lovable underdog—a nervous dinosaur who’s scared and alone and insecure. You can’t help but feel sorry for the poor little guy. He’s been teased by his siblings and made to feel helpless and insignificant—and now he finds himself on his own in the wilderness, with no one but a lively (and often adorable) little boy to help him get home.

As the two continue on their journey, they find themselves in all kinds of dangerous—and sometimes surprisingly scary—situations. And, along the way, they encounter vicious red lizards, predatory birds, and adventure-loving, cattle-driving T-Rexes.

What the film doesn’t have, however, is the originality and sophistication of the average Pixar film. It’s a charming kids’ movie with cute characters, fun adventures, and plenty of heart—but there’s nothing that makes the story stand out, that will truly surprise or delight. It’s been done before—and it’s been done better, too.

With The Good Dinosaur, Pixar’s animators have once again outdone themselves. But while the film excels visually, its story fails to live up to the (perhaps unreasonably) high expectations that most of us have for the studio. It’s not a bad movie; it’s just a gorgeous but otherwise typical kids’ movie.

Blu-ray Review:
As is often the case for Disney/Pixar films, the Blu-ray release of The Good Dinosaur comes complete with a loaded special features menu. The extras here are generally short and light, covering everything from the characters to the filmmaking process and more.

Pixar fans can get a glimpse of the Pixar process through the filmmaker commentary and deleted scenes—as well as features like The Filmmakers’ Journey, which discusses the challenges that the team faced in bringing the film to theaters. Every Part of the Dinosaur zeroes in on the characters—and the added challenge of animating a lifelike dinosaur without models. And Following the T-Rex Trail joins the team on a trip to a cattle ranch, where they learn about moving cattle while working with an inspiring family. Or, for a look inside the wackiness at Pixar, there’s Recyclosaurus, which follows the different departments as they compete to create the best dinosaur out of unwanted items.

Kids, meanwhile, will love extras like Dino Bites, a collection of random little clips of animation, or Hide and Seek, which follows Arlo and Spot through a playful game. There’s also Sanjay’s Super Team, the lovable short that played before the film’s theatrical release.

With more than two hours of extras included with the release, you can definitely spend a lot of time exploring the world of The Good Dinosaur. But if you have just a few minutes to spare, I recommend starting with the behind-the-scenes adventures of Recyclosaurus and Following the T-Rex Trail—and, for the kids, the quick and adorable Hide and Seek.

Listen to the review on Reel Discovery:

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