Monday, November 30, 2015

The Good Dinosaur Movie Review

I finally feel inspired enough to write another movie review. I apologize to all my followers (all 3 of you) that I've been MIA for so long. School has taken up all my time and I've been very sidetracked by other projects. I will be attempting to do a movie review (either by YouTube video, which will be starting next week or blog post). Right now, though, its easier to stick to blog posts until I can figure out the whole YouTube editing process. That'll take me some time. I also would like to make sure I don't look like a complete and total buffoon in front of a camera.

So what brings me back to my beloved movie blogging? Well, unfortunately it's the disappointment of a highly anticipated animated movie that I've been hearing about for MONTHS. This was a year of two Pixar movies: the first being an iconic and top-notch feature film in Inside Out (seriously, that movie was incredible), and the second being The Good Dinosaur, a movie reminiscent of the old-school Land Before Time and We're Back (minus the modern day).

If you know me, you'd understand why I've been anticipating this movie from the moment I saw the trailer. ITS A DINOSAUR MOVIE. That's the first thing that stuck. But once I started hearing that it would incorporate something of a western theme/feel within the dinosaur world, I was sold. This would be the movie I would show my future children first before anything. This would be the greatest movie in the history of animated movies, dinosaur movies, western movies, or dinosaur-themed-western movies (small sample there).

"Hello, my name is Arlo and I'm afraid of fireflies."
The overall story follows a young terrified-of-the-world brontosaurs/brachiosaurus type dinosaur named Arlo who happens to be the runt of his family. He has a brother and sister who have defined skill-sets and a very hard-working, stern father who expects greatness from him. Initially, this story-line stuck out to me, because I grew up as somewhat of a runt in my family and I struggled with a lot of irrational fear of the world. I also always worried whether or not I was living up to my parents' huge expectations for me. Arlo's story felt a lot like MY story. I knew I was going to enjoy this initial aspect of the film, which appeared to be Arlo's search for an identity in the world and his desire to impress his father. A number of sad things happen in the very beginning of the film that make you feel like this is going to be a tear-jerker for the ages.

Unfortunately, this movie does not live up to the hype. A lot of the problem with the movie can be linked to the fact that it switched directors halfway through production (this usually spells doom for ANY production). You could feel throughout the disconnect with the story and the overall feel was that there were a lot of ideas trying to be adapted within the story, which contributed to an overall confusing and weird story.


Before I get into what didn't really work, I want to make sure I point out what did draw me into the film. Obviously, you can't talk about Pixar without talking about the mind-blowing computer animation. In the case of The Good Dinosaur, the animation of the landscape felt so real and so lifelike that it was hard for me to believe the filmmakers weren't using actual footage of landscapes. It was incredible. I think I bugged Abby by asking her about 10 times during the movie, "Are you sure that grass is animation?" or "There's no way in hell that water is fake." or "WHAT THE F%#&*# WHO HAS TIME TO MAKE SOMETHING LOOK THAT COOL?!?"

Phenomenal. Incredible. Jaw-dropping. AMAZEBALLS.

I also really enjoyed the dynamic between Arlo and his human pet Spot (I called him Plop for the majority of the movie). It was a relationship they really didn't develop like they should've throughout the story and both Abby and I believed the movie would've worked a LOT better if the focus was on their friendship and their individual search for meaning within the world. Unfortunately, that entire plot-line got derailed within everything else that was going on.
"If you ain't afraid, you ain't alive."

It was cool, as well, to see the T-Rexes used as allies to Arlo and Plop, rather than enemies. They were essentially cowboys who were herding longhorns. It worked pretty well in my eyes. Plus, you can never go wrong with Sam Elliott voicing a character. I could listen to that man read complete gibberish and still get goosebumps.


BUTTTTTTT unfortunately there were a lot of things that didn't work. A lot of things. :(

First and foremost the entire plot-line felt muddled. It seemed like a number of people were trying to shoehorn their ideas in there and the heart and charm behind the story got lost along the way. It jumped from being a coming of age story to a western...than jumped into being a buddy journey movie...with a bit of Croods thrown in...back and forth back and forth...and ended up trying to be a "what would've happened if the comet DIDN'T hit Earth and kill the dinosaurs. In the end, I'm not entirely sure what they were going for and I'm honestly not sure they achieved ANY of those.

"Excuse me, but do you have a moment to talk about our lord and savior the STORM?"
There were also a lot of characters that just didn't feel right to me. The main culprits were the pterodactyls. They were almost borderline offensive, and I'm not easily offended. Were they supposed to be overly religious extremists? Maybe I'm overthinking it, but those characters could've been done without. Most of the minor characters did not work and it seemed Pixar was trying too hard to make interesting and witty characters. I appreciated the risk involved, but I don't quite get what they thought they had with some of these dinosaurs.

In the end, I was entertained by this movie. I laughed. I almost cried (dudes, that father-son story-line got me good). But I was mostly disappointed. I expected a lot from this film and this definitely will be not be going down as one of Pixar's best outings. It's still enjoyable and kids will LOVE it. Was it made for that reason? Was it made to sell toys? Probably. But the movie, I would say, is still worth a family outing. Just don't expect anything thought-provoking or mind-blowing. If you want that, rent Inside Out on Blu-Ray and prepare to be blown away.