Pixar Animation Studios has two original (read: non-sequels/prequels) feature films opening in theaters in 2015. The first one, Inside Out, is a June release from Monsters, Inc. and Up co-writer/director Peter Docter, while the second (due in November) is The Good Dinosaur: the feature-length directorial debut for Peter Sohn, who previously helmed the Pixar animated short "Partly Cloudy" and served as a storyboard artist on such movies as Ratatouille and WALL·E.
Good Dinosaur tells the tale of Arlo (Lucas Neff), an Apatosaurus who - following a "traumatic event" that leaves his family changed - sets out on a journey, with a companion in the form of a human boy. However, the first teaser trailer for the movie doesn't deal with that story of a dinosaur and his "pet" - rather, it focuses on setting up the concept that, in the film's universe, the dinosaurs weren't wiped out by a cataclysmic extinction event involving an asteroid striking Earth, millions of years ago.
You can watch the Good Dinosaur teaser trailer, above.
Sohn, during an interview with Yahoo! Movies, clarified that in Good Dinosaur, Arlo and his fellow dinosaurs have "become us, essentially" - in that they're able to speak and they "have certain emotions and connections to family." Obviously, scientific accuracy isn't really the concern here - the exact opposite, in fact. Nonetheless, Sohn told Yahoo! that when Good Dinosaur takes place in history was intentionally left ambiguous, so the filmmakers wouldn't have to worry too much about explaining why anatomically modern humans (which appeared some 200,000 years ago) are running around with dinosaurs:
"It’s kind of an unknown, and it’s been fun to let go of what has happened. It’s given us some space in terms of the logic of the rules.”
Arlo's boy companion, Spot, will thus be the more animalistic of the buddy duo - the "dog" in Good Dinosaur's variation on the archetypal boy and his dog narrative.
Previously, Sohn said the big change he made to Good Dinosaur after he took over as director from Bob Peterson (who co-penned the screen story for the film) was to make nature itself a "character" - or, rather, the "antagonist" of the story. You may notice that, in the Good Dinosaur teaser footage, the dinos have been animated in more of a stylized, impressionist manner (re: they look cartoonish), while the various scenery - be it outer space or geographical sites on Earth - is more realistic in appearance. This was largely done to give the "character" of nature in Good Dinosaur its own "identity" in the film.
Here's how Sohn explained the approach to Yahoo! Movies:
“We’ve been trying to find physical obstacles and and emotional obstacles for our main character, and nature can represent both. In a lot of the research that we’ve done, going out into the Northwest and out into the wilderness, I cannot tell you how beautiful and scary it can be, and how quickly nature can just turn on you. And we’re trying to finding the truth in that in terms of Arlo’s growth.”
Sohn apparently did a pretty hefty amount of story revising after he took over directing Good Dinosaur, so there is reason to be concerned that the final movie result will feel a bit like two different visions of a similar story mashed together - something that arguably happened (to some degree) on Pixar's Brave, which also changed directors mid-stream. However, what we've seen of Good Dinosaur thus far seems promising, and hints at another Pixar creation that serves up plenty of imagination and heart - and the early comparisons to Lilo & Stitch (in response to additional Good Dinosaur footage screened recently) is also encouraging.
Rounding out the Good Dinosaur voice cast are such actors as Bill Hader (Inside Out), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), John Lithgow (Interstellar), Frances McDormand (Olive Kitteridge), and Judy Greer (Married).
NEXT: Inside Out Early Reviews
The Good Dinosaur opens in U.S. theaters on November 25th, 2015.
Source: Yahoo! Movies