Animation is a lucrative market at the moment. With Disney and Universal going head to head, we are always expecting at least one film to knock it out the park each year. After screenplay and scripting issues put The Good Dinosaur back a year, is this one to equal the might of Frozen or are we left wishing we could see the original draft?
The Good Dinosaur tells the story of a young Apatosaurus, Arlo. After an accident at his farm, Arlo find himself on a journey to get home, all the while paired with the most unlikely of companions – a human.
Taking the reigns of the project as both the director and one of the writers was Peter Sohn. Being new to the directors chair, Sohn does manage to give us something impressive but as ever, where there is a lack of experience, there are a few issues here and there. Although beautiful to look at, the format of the traditional Disney film is a little upside down – those scenes for instance that are usually bundled with incredible amounts of emotion fall flat, only coming to life nearer the end of the film. Although one could argue that this was a fresh direction to take with the story, it does take away that connection with the characters that so often makes Pixar films incredibly warm and fuzzy.
Heavily influenced by previous Disney projects, it seems almost impossible to get away from some of the classics. Somewhat different from this year’s previous effort – Inside Out – the story itself feels more like a retelling of previous blockbusters with slightly upgraded characters. Although cliché at times it’s not necessarily a bad thing as this was the reason we fell in love the the ‘oldies’ in the first place – it just seems a shame that they couldn’t have told something new given the potential.
Additionally, the film also takes a different stance with regards to time. Where we are usually treated to clear time divisions (eg baby – teen – young adult), the entire story follows Arlo during one phase. This youthful approach, while interesting, may make the adult fans feel a little alienated as it becomes un-relatable the older the audience gets. This isn’t enough to hurt the story at all, more of a disappointment, given the unforgettable effect that Toy Story 3 had on everyone.
Although this lack of experience comes through, where Sohn does manage to impress is with his incredible eye for detail. Being an animator at heart, each scene is lovingly collated together with some seriously impressive visuals (particular water) making us recognise just how incredible the studio is with the little details.
Somewhat lacking in the overall voice department, this definitely isn’t the strongest cast to date. With what can only be described as fairly ‘standard’ voice acting, there isn’t really anyone that stands out. Its not until we hear the sultry tones of Sam Elliot that we are really treated to anything interesting. With some serious talent to contend with, this did feel like it let the film down a little.
Overall, The Good Dinosaur is a pleasant watch over the festive period. With a warm yet somewhat deconstructed story, it seems a shame but somehow just that this will fall in the shadow of the summer blockbuster, Inside Out. The Good Dinosaur walks casually away with 3.5 out of 5 stars.