The Good Dinosaur Blu-ray Review
Very few studios have a batting average anywhere near Pixar’s astonishing work. Yet, it seems every few years there is a misfire. THE GOOD DINOSAUR is one of those misfires, not a bad movie necessarily, though maybe a bit overreaching for Pixar in a year that saw them also release the incredibly touching and universal INSIDE OUT. Instead this one is just… mediocre, despite some neat stylistic choices and astonishing technological achievements (and some really great animation). It just doesn’t feel up to the Disney|Pixar moniker.
THE GOOD DINOSAUR is set in an alternative version of history that presupposes, with a very simple opening – what if the asteroid we believe hit the earth 65 million years ago, causing the destruction & extinction of the dinosaurs – what if it didn’t happen? What if it missed the Earth completely and so dinosaurs and eventually humans came to evolve and inhabit the world at the same time? THE GOOD DINOSAUR takes place these “MILLIONS OF YEARS LATER” at some indistinguishable moment in this alternative timeline, probably still millions of years in the past, but as the film opens you wouldn’t know.
The camera pans across beautiful vistas of a rural mountainous region, and then the perspective shifts slightly and we see that things are slightly too large. Apatosaurs plow the field, water the crops, and work the land. And their children are born. First born is Lilly, taking after her mother with smarts, pride. Then Buck, all strength and obstinance. Finally, the largest egg produces the tiniest of specimens… Arlo, our main character, the runt of the litter and our reluctant hero. I use that terminology not only because it is apropos to the plot but because it is something both Disney and PIXAR have done with such astonishing beauty during their tenure on the filmmaking scene – they can tell the same story over and over and we will eat it up!
Well, almost every time. THE GOOD DINOSAUR is a good example of what happens when it doesn’t quite work. I’m happy to say it isn’t the anger-inducing sequel that feels entirely like a cash-grab (I’m trying really hard not to mention CARS 2 by name… darn it, but I did). But, as I said, it isn’t bad in that way. It isn’t really even bad… it just feels derivative, the Disney-fied version of the coming of age story you’ve seen about a hundred times. The difference is that this time the story has a few new twists, a few new characters, and some neat new advances in animation. But the general outcome is the same, and when you finish watching the movie you basically feel like you just saw something you’ve already seen a bunch of times.
Bottom line with THE GOOD DINOSAUR, it’s just not as good as what you probably hoped/expected given the filmmaking pedigree. The message, though, is a great one. Do something big for something bigger than yourself. That’s something you can always encourage your kids to do… though that isn’t to say this is one for every kid out there… Fair warning – this one might be a little scary for some of your kiddos. My 3 (nearly 4) year old said said she was very scared by some of the bad guys… but you know your kids and what they can take. The bigger concern I would have is keeping their interest during some of the slower moments near the middle of the film that can drag on for what feels like 20-30 minutes.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.39:1) As always Disney|PIXAR set the standard for video presentation and THE GOOD DINOSAUR is no different.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1) The audio track on THE GOOD DINOSAUR is equally brilliant, with a breathtaking 7.1 Surround and a 5.1 Surround available as well. Both are mixed phenomenally well.
Sanjay’s Super Team (07:07) The short film that preceded THE GOOD DINOSAUR is arguably a far more beautiful film, this being a seven-minute glimpse both into the universality of childhood and a poignant look into another culture (for most Americans). The animation feels a bit like the Legend of Zelda the Windwaker, from the old Gamecube system. That may be a bit of weird reference, but trust me. Both are worth your time.
True Lies about Dinosaurs (01:56) This short discusses some of the historical alterations and some of the complete fabrications they used to make up the story of THE GOOD DINOSAUR. (Note – My 6 and 3 year old found this pretty confusing)
Recyclosaurus (06:19) People at Pixar have a competition around each movie, this time they had to build a dinosaur with reclaimed free items from the ‘free’ table… it’s pretty overboard for what most of us would be used to at our offices (if we have an office at all) but still pretty neat.
The Filmmakers Journey (07:54) Peter Sohn, on his first Directing experience, and his crew all discuss their experience after being assigned to THE GOOD DINOSAUR.
Every Part of the Dinosaur (06:08) The animators discuss the specific animation of the dinosaurs and the humans and how things changed and flipped during THE GOOD DINOSAUR.
Following the T-Rex Trail (06:58) “If apatosaurs/herbivores were ranchers, then maybe tyrannosaurs/carnivores would herd their own meat” – that pretty much sums up the idea behind how they researched this idea for THE GOOD DINOSAUR. What an awesome family they got to know.
Deleted Scenes The scenes included here are pretty mediocre and would have made the film more plodding than it already is, even though it comes in just over 93 minutes.
Includes: Introduction; The Attack, Building the Silo, Waiting for Pappa
Audio Commentary with director Peter Sohn, story supervisor Kelsey Mann; animation supervisor Mike Venturini; director of photography/lighting Sharon Calahan; supervising technical director Sanjay Bakshi (01;33:38) A very rehearsed-sounding commentary track, this one feels pretty rote. It was really difficult for me to stay awake during this during repeated attempts – despite the really interesting content. The folks just weren’t engaging, which was a little disappointing.
Dino Bites (04:15) Four minutes of lots of little shorts posted around the time the movie was released to increase interest in THE GOOD DINOSAUR.
Hide and Seek (00:59) Spot and Arlo play hide & seek to get folks interested in THE GOOD DINOSAUR.
THE GOOD DINOSAUR also features Trailers in 1080p for other Disney films and comes with a copy of the film on Digital HD digital copy of the film and a DVD copy of the film.