The Good Dinosaur gets a lot of things right however it could do more to stand out from the previous Pixar films.
The story is set in an alternative reality where dinosaurs co-exist with homo sapiens. Arlo, a young, cowardly Apatosaurus, accidently falls into a river and is washed away, getting separated from his family.
When he reaches ashore he meets Spot, a human child. Together they embark on an epic journey to try and get Arlo back home.
For me one of Pixar’s greatest strengths is their pacing and The Good Dinosaur is another example of that talent.
The setting, tone, supporting characters and the protagonist’s desire and weakness are all established within the first fifteen minutes.
Arlo is shown to be easily scared and wanting to please his family which makes him very empathetic.
The antagonism in the story is also great because they all viciously attack Arlo’s biggest weakness, his fear. The antagonism ranges from destructive rainstorms, carnivorous pterodactyls and a band of prowling velociraptors.
The Good Dinosaur’s most unique quality is its mix of genres.
On the surface the film is obviously an animated, children’s film but the score, cinematography and the characters’ accents are very reminiscent of a Western.
Arlo’s farm reminds me of Clint Eastwood’s farm in Unforgiven and the scene where Arlo and a trio of T-Rexes round up some cattle also reminds me of the opening scene of My Darling Clementine showing the Earps rounding up cattle.
The film could do with some more unique elements like this because a lot of the story borrows from previous Pixar films.
I won’t spoil anything but the plot is very similar to the plots of Monsters, Inc. Finding Nemo and Up. The film is very predictable.
Overall The Good Dinosaur despite being not one of Pixar’s greatest films, is worth seeing for its fast pace and original use of genres.
I give The Good Dinosaur a 7 out of 10.