The Good Dinosaur – not a Good Film

My eldest son turned 6 on Sunday. For a birthday treat, we took him and two of his friends to the cinema to see The Good Dinosaur. It’s a Pixar film, right, what could go wrong

Well, there’s the small matter of the film being terrible, for one thing.

There was a meme that did the rounds a while ago, on Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/194499277635020646/ . I would suggest they have forgotten their own rules… especially the rule to “get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.” The Good Dinosaur is hugely generic and predictable, obviously borrowing from better films (Dumbo, Jungle Book, Lion King), but losing in the translation, like a piece of paper photocopied again and again, losing resolution each time.

So, in the modern style, here are my 5 reasons why this film sucked. Here, there be SPOILERS.

1 – It’s called The Good Dinosaur. Does the title have ANY relevance to the film? Do they even make good use of having dinosaurs in the film? No.
Dinosaurs have evolved into human-type farmers. This is just another cowboy film.
(Hint to American film producers – I can’t speak for the whole world, obviously, but we are far less fascinated by cowboys, and the Wild West, than you guys… try something different. Please.)

2 – The “driver” for Arlo initially is that he literally wants to make his mark. So what? Don’t we all? This is not a big enough reason to root for him, and the tidal boar that killed off his dad terrified the small children in the audience (as did the pterodactyls later). It all just felt misjudged – something that isn’t usually a problem with Pixar.

3 – The main “plot” is Arlo’s journey home. This is linear and predictable, as are the obstacles that inevitably get in their way. Does Arlo change on his journey? Well, he bonds with the human-dog-child (their relationship is the only bright spark in the film), and becomes less afraid, but… is that it?

4 – The ending is so predictable that the 6 year olds saw it coming… They have seen Jungle Book. There is literally no reason why I would watch this film again. No quotable dialogue, no original characters, no twist in the tail… It’s disappointing on almost every level.

5 – And the killer for me… This doesn’t even feel like a Pixar film. There is none of the verbal comedy, the interplay between characters that we have come to love. Worse still, this just feels like a Disney film without the songs. If this is the future of Disney-Pixar, melding the worst of either side of the equation, count me out. The scenery may look beautiful, but if I wanted only that I’d watch the National Geographic channel.

With the next Pixar films due out being some unnecessary sequels (Finding Nemo is one of the best films ever made, of any genre… but it doesn’t need a sequel… and Toy Story 3 is the best third act of any film trilogy series – inc LOTR – but know when to quit…), I worry that the golden era of this studio has already been and gone.

I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

 

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Author: Al Lane

Writer, Poet, Daydreamer

9 thoughts on “The Good Dinosaur – not a Good Film”

  1. I am not at all surprised. Here’s a Facebook post I wrote on 22nd July:

    “Just seen a trailer for what might be the crappiest Pixar film yet, ‘The Good Dinosaur’. Terrible title and a premise of “what if the dinosaurs weren’t wiped out by an asteroid” so that they’re still around when humans evolve (I have many issues with that, but I’ll ignore them ‘cos it’s not supposed to be a factual examination). Not keen on how they’ve cutesified the dinosaur and it just looks like dull, twee rubbish. Not directed by John Lasseter. I’m sure 4 year olds will love it – their parents probably less so.”

    Isn’t it great when you’re proved right? Generally, yes, but it’s still a shame that Pixar have made such a lemon.

  2. Thank you for this very honest review.
    I would like to point out that every Disney movie had a terrifying scene, just like every good fairy tale does. This in itself doesn’t faze me.
    The lack of character to the characters much more so, and the lack of twists and other good dialog…
    I must say I feared as much when I heard Pixar had been bought out. This is what happens when you *have to* get a film out for Xmas, instead of letting good inspiration come to you.
    At least I’ll know not to take my kids see this. 🙂

    1. The terror felt a bit more direct here than in other Disney films… tbh, the short that preceded the film was even scarier, and absolutely terrified one of the kids (and I’m not sure if it was brave or foolish to try and mix superheroes and religion…)

      I have read since writing this that there were numerous issues behind the scenes with the director and cast changing… could explain a lot. Such a disappointment…

        1. That makes two in a row from them… I also hated the middle hour of the marketing vehicle that is Inside Out, although it did start and end well… I’ll save that rant for another day!

          1. I really liked Inside out. It depicted what goes on in the brain quite accurately actually, there was lots of humour and good dialogs I felt. My kids certainly loved it, and it may have helped them put some images onto the thoughts and feelings they have going through the crazy times they are faced with. Generally speaking, I dislike Disney’s “everyone HAS to see this” marketing approach. I also hated the minions movie. Almost went to sleep during it, more than once.
            I guess it depends on one’s frame of mind when entering the theater too 🙂
            I didn’t have expectations with either one of these films, I wasn’t disappointed in Inside Out, I was very disappointed in the Minions. What can I say 🙂

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