‘The Good Dinosaur’ Review: Finding Dino

the good dinosaur review

(You can read my full review here. Below is the shortened version).

The Good Dinosaur was directed by Peter Sohn and stars (the voices of) Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Sam Elliot, Raymond Ochoa, and Jack Bright.

What if the dinosaurs had never been wiped out by an asteroid? According to Pixar, this would have led to dinosaurs eventually becoming the dominant species on Earth. The movie opens in what appears to be Wyoming or Montana, millions of years after the asteroid failed to wipe out all dinosaurs and supposedly before the Ice Age, perhaps.

There’s no exposition beyond this. We meet an Apatosaurus family that operates a farm almost like humans would, and the film gets rolling from there. Throughout this movie, you’ll come across these little moments that remind you how new this world is. Things operate differently, and there’s some clever imagination woven into the rules of this alternate universe.

the good dinosaur review

The main plot of the movie involves a young Apatosaurus named Arlo, who gets separated from his farm after getting washed away by a river. He’s incredibly fearful, and it’s led to some awful tragedies in his life, so this adventure is his opportunity to make his mark on the world and prove himself. To do this, he unwittingly befriends and essentially tames a human he names Spot.

Their journey is exciting and wrought with tension and real danger. Creatures die without warning. Arlo gets hurt a lot. And everything feels authentic, which is probably made better by how beautiful the photorealistic environments are. They’re worth the price of admission alone.

This is also a very funny movie, which is a saving grace from some of the more perilous moments that weight it down. And even though not every element about The Good Dinosaur is perfect, it’s the combination of what it does well that impresses. It’s soundtrack elevates the atmosphere. The softness of the voice acting helps the humor feel earned. The gorgeous visuals highlight how authentic the movie feels, which I’ve already stated.

It’s really the harmony of The Good Dinosaur that puts it above every other movie I’ve seen this year. Even Pixar’s other offering this year, Inside Out, just didn’t feel this cohesive and in sync.

Grade A+

the good dinosaur review

As of November, this is my favorite movie of the year, and it happens to be third movie of 2015 that I’ve given an A+. In my opinion, The Good Dinosaur is one of Pixar’s best films period, mostly because it pushes the studio in new directions that excite me for what they have in stored next. If you’re a fan of their work, then this is a film you should not miss.

Extra Credits

  • No cameos or easter eggs from what I can tell. I didn’t even spot A113. Honestly, this was probably for the best. The simplicity of The Good Dinosaur was one of the things I liked the most about it.
  • Shortly after writing my full review, I noticed that most critics disagree with my assessment on this one, and I have a feeling that many people will prefer Inside Out out of the two. That’s fine, of course, but my opinion remains. I walked into this movie not knowing how anyone would perceive it, and it’s stuck with me ever since. Simply put, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
  • It gets an A+, but it’s not perfect. One aspect of the movie in particular, the rustlers, was pretty underwhelming and uninspired. I’d also note that the third act trips a little bit, but is ultimately saved by a sequence I won’t spoil.
  • Does it fit in the Pixar Theory? I’ve thought about this plenty, and I’ll certainly have a post coming out soon covering this. But the short answer is: well, yeah.

For a more in-depth look at this movie, come back this Sunday for the Now Conspiring podcast, where we’ll discuss this and other new releases.

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

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14 Replies to “‘The Good Dinosaur’ Review: Finding Dino”

  1. Not to pressure or insult you, but I don’t think this is an A+ movie, but I think it will be a regular A, but a B+ at worst (Still great). Also, my sister hates The Good Dinosaur and refuses to give it a chance because it has dinosaurs in it which started with Jurassic World. (That movie wasn’t for everyone). I also predict a Snarcasm on this movie in the near future because someone will give a Donald Trump about it.

    As for the Pixar Theory, the fireflies will be the earliest incarnations of the Will o the Wisps and that the meteorite that missed the Earth will create magical properties as a consequence. As for how will the dinosaurs die out in the future, I think humans will overdominate and hunt them down. However it will create the bond between humans and animals that will be tested throughout the movies and that test will determine the fate of BnL when the timeline splits. Whether BnL will succeed in breaking that bond or the bond will triumph over BnL.
    Brace for Pixar Theory and Detective comments in the future.

  2. I liked The Good Dinosaur, but I don’t quite match with Jon’s high praise. This wasn’t a perfect film, and some elements felt forced. Besides this, I had an overall positive experience. The movie felt new and fresh, and the soundtrack added depth to the jaw-dropping visuals. As of now, I need some time for the film to sink-in, and I think I’ll grow to like it more with further viewings.

  3. How did the dinosaurs go extinct in the Pixarverse when the asteroid misses? That’s the ultimate question.

    My two guesses are that they were hunted down by humans at some point or an ice age happens in which they just can’t adapt good enough, but the humans did.

  4. I just watched The Good Dinosaur today, and personally, I have mixed feelings about it.
    As Jon mentioned, the soundtrack was awesome and in sync with the rest of the movie, and the actors totally nailed it. I really felt for Arlo and Spot.
    But as Jon also mentioned, the third act took a stumble. I always look forward to looking for easter eggs, but it’s hard to do that when there’s none there. I appreciate the simplicity of it, but still. And the ending kinda disappointed me.
    All in all, it’s a good movie, just not my favorite.

    • The movie’s ending is radically different from what I envisioned, but I won’t share it with anyone. Not even a clue.

      Also, I posted Chapter 2 of the Pixar Dectective Cascades on the day before the movie was released. Coincidence? Maybe?

  5. Was Jon Ratzennburgur in The Good Dinosour? I watched it a couple of days ago, and I didn’t catch his voice.

  6. This film was simple beauty. I loved every moment of it. ^_^
    My 2nd favorite animated film of the year (below Shaun The Sheep and—you betcha I’m going there, but please understand that it’s REALLY close—Inside Out) and currently my 5th favorite film of 2015 overall (below Steve Jobs and above Inside Out).

  7. Apparentally the Pizza Planet truck is in there somewhere, as well as Dory who appears in one of the river scenes.

  8. Here’s an idea I came across: What if the “Yellowstone supervolcano” went off after the events of the film? (I think that would have been a global catastrophe that would cause both dinos and early humans to go extinct). I noticed geysers and stuff, probably less than whatever would actually indicate a “supervolcano,” but the missing asteroid impact would affect geologic events, right? That would explain the lack of dinosaurs, but humans would have gone extinct… Unless,… Dinosaurs seemed startlingly intelligent, so what if the apatosaurases from the area the film takes place in invented space travel before the volcano went off (which could have been delayed thousands of years–moments in geologic time) and took some humans with them (Making Spot’s friendship vital to the survival of the human species)? Then, before the events of Brave, maybe, they put the humans back. Perhaps the dinosaurs were also the ancestors of (or related to) monsters. The “human battery” effect for the monsters, the idea of Brave and the witch being the catalyst for deviation from our universe, the possibility of parallel universes (Maybe the lack of Easter eggs can be explained by monsters not having access to the prehistoric world because the prehistoric world kinda sucked with all the creatures trying to eat each other and stuff. I think “beauty on the other side” and “we scare because we care” might be related) within the Pixarverse, and maybe related parts of time travel have not been incorporated into this fan hypothesis yet.

    • These are some great observations. You have a knack for this!

  9. I actually was able to spot A113 on the 2nd viewing. The way they hid it is very subtle though, so I think you’ll appreciate it. It’s towards the beginning, JUST before Arlo enters the chicken pen for the first time. Happy hunting!

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