The Good Dinosaur (2015)

A heart-warming, dramatic tale of family and unexpected friendships, in the attempt to overcome fear in Pixar’s feature “The Good Dinosaur”


Film Review

In an alternative world, dinosaurs continue to roam the land. Attempting to contribute and make his mark on the family farm, young Apatosaurus Arlo lands himself in a hapless condition, forced to survive and find his way back home. Unfamiliar with his surroundings, he stumbles across assistance in the form of wild Neanderthal child, Spot, together they embark on the treacherous travels. A magical, distinguishing Pixar tale of how family and unlikely friendships can provide the motivation to face your fears.

“Sometimes you’ve got to get through your fear, to see the beauty on the other side.”

Pixar are notorious for making you feel. They seem to have a continual motive for the audience to leave the cinema with a mixture of emotions. This is no exception.

Imagining a world where dinosaurs were never eradicated all those years ago is a fantasy that truly has a lot of potential when conceptualised. We are introduced to a small cast of dynamic and contradictory characters – from accustomed dinosaurs to other critters and striking animals. Our protagonist is an underachiever in his family of diligent hard-workers. They go about their daily lives in very human manners – planting crops, chasing off pests and striving to have enough food for the harsh winters to come. All fairly customary, relatable tasks that appear recognisable to us as the audience.

Arlo as a character is unmistakably very loveable and easily enchanting. He exhibits an innocent demeanour that makes us empathise and yearn for him to conquer his fears and find his loved ones. The aesthetics of Arlo and his family are particularly ‘child friendly’. It’s a family orientated film so of course our leading characters need to be recognisable and appealing. Uncoordinated and exceedingly graceless at times, Arlo is a personified disposition we can all see in ourselves and therefore sympathise with, without ease. He’s a very quintessential awkward and accident-prone protagonist, willing for some empathy from the audience.

The ‘critter’, Spot, is a very contracting, dynamic character when compared to Arlo. He displays native, uncontrollable characteristics, equivalent to those of a undomesticated animal. The communication boundaries between the incompatible duo doesn’t hinder their bond that is gradually instigated. The friendship is a precious innocence anchored by their united family problems. The tender moments they share, particularly the one involving the circles in the sand, are poignant and  moving.

source: Walt Disney Pictures

The animation is truly spectacular. The scenery and surroundings in particular, is so captivating, it’s practically equivalent to viewing a filmed sequence. With vivid colours, stunning visuals and remarkable motion and gestures, the perceived narrative and locations are very observably enchanting. I found that the character compositions differed considerably. Arlo and his family distinctly, are very simplified and refined in appearance, contrasting their environment. Once again, this is used as an attempt to appeal to younger generations and produce a fresh beloved protagonist image for the public.

I did enjoy the vast amount of re-accuring images and themes that were consistent throughout. Such as finding solace in the beauty of fireflies. It’s a great example of discovering comfort in the most habitual and simple of spectacles. Themes of acceptance, friendship, family and conquering fears were no doubt the most noteworthy of messages demonstrated in this picture. Simple displays such as the howling between Arlo and Spot were beautifully displayed as a form of connectivity and acceptance between two very different creatures.

Pixar manage to convey a darker tone of themes throughout the feature. From certain desolate and heart-breaking scenes to Arlo’s frequent encounters with unfortunate and undeserved circumstances, we are presented with delicate and intense fears and perils for our beloved hero. Mother Nature is a constant antagonist throughout Arlo’s journey. Although to initially be established as the source of directing them back home, the river turns out to become more of a trigger of fear. We are obligated to undergo sentiment towards the characters because of their luckless situations they find themselves in.

Overall, a solid feature from Pixar. Visually spectacular, but the characters were maybe a bit too ‘typical’ for my liking. The narrative is solid, a clear journey of discovery for the characters, that does still work considerably well to appeal to all ages of the family.

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