Pixar’s second release of 2015 – following this summer’s critical and financial hit, Inside Out – is The Good Dinosaur, which saw a number of problems in its production. The release date for The Good Dinosaur was pushed back following the removal of Bob Peterson as the feature’s director, replaced by Peter Sohn, who teamed with screenwriter Meg LeFauve to rework the film and revise the third act.
The resulting movie follows Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) a young Apatosaurus who befriends a wild caveboy that he names Spot (Jack Bright), putting a twist on the classic “boy and his dog” story. With a strong friendship at the core of the film, The Good Dinosaur is a highly anticipated Pixar film. Now, with a few weeks left before the movie’s release, the first reviews are hitting the web.
Early reviews for The Good Dinosaur largely reach the consensus that the film delivers in visual spectacle and an emotional heart, but suffers from a too-conventional story. Some reviewers compare the feature to animated classics like The Lion King and The Jungle Book, which focused on a humanized animal world and the bond between human and creature – both themes addressed in The Good Dinosaur. That being said, many praised the CG-rendered environments and the core relationship between Arlo and Spot.
Here’s a sampling of what the first batch of reviews had to say (click on the corresponding links for the full reviews):
THR – Michael Rechtshaffen
The Good Dinosaur emerges as a visually breathtaking work of computer-generated animation that is ultimately unable to compensate for a disappointingly derivative script. … Following in the footsteps of the truly inspired Inside Out, this year’s second Pixar effort can’t help but feel safely benign by comparison, and although it contains some darker, more intense moments, it will likely skew to younger, dino-obsessed Thanksgiving holiday audiences.
The Wrap – Inkoo Kang
First-time helmer Peter Sohn and screenwriter Meg LeFauve (“Inside Out”) have created a fantastic and frequently exhilarating feature that showcases Pixar’s greatest strengths: technical brilliance, emotional texture, crossover appeal, and an impish sense of humor that takes the utmost advantage of the animated form.
Screen Daily – Tim Grierson
In some ways, The Good Dinosaur is one of Pixar’s most conventional films, telling a simplistic coming-of-age story about a young Apatosaurus on a hero’s journey to return to his family… But that template sets the stage for a mythic, visually resplendent treatment of familiar material, as first-time feature director Peter Sohn wrings considerable emotion from a tale that’s part Western, part Incredible Journey-style adventure.
Variety – Justin Chang
[The Good Dinosaur], for all its signature visual artistry, falls back surprisingly often on familiar, kid-friendly lessons and chatty anthropomorphic humor. Clever and cloying by turns, it’s a movie that always seems to be trying to evolve beyond its conventional trappings, and not succeeding as often as Pixar devotees have come to expect.
Judging by these early reviews, viewers should expect another visual masterpiece, with CGI that is perhaps a step up from Pixar’s library, and with all the heart that has become synonymous with the studio. Additionally, those looking for a simple story in Arlo’s coming of age and friendship with Spot will surely be pleased by The Good Dinosaur.
That being said, given the bar set by Inside Out earlier this year, The Good Dinosaur may suffer from expectations set too high for its premise. Further, the reviews indicate The Good Dinosaur doesn’t quite achieve the ageless humor beloved by many Disney and Pixar movies to please viewers young and old. All in all, these early reviews put forth The Good Dinosaur as an emotionally grounded Pixar film, that doesn’t do much to break free from a standard story, but excels in its visual presentation.
The Good Dinosaur opens in U.S. theaters on November 25th, 2015.
Source: Various (see the above links)