Film review: THE GOOD DINOSAUR from ‘Built For Speed’

The Good Dinosaur is one of those Disney Pixar animated adventure comedies that anthropomorphises dinosaurs into quirky or heroic human archetypes. We’ve seen this in numerous animated features but the eternal fascination with dinosaurs means the concept still works wonderfully.

This film attempts to justify the human-like qualities of its dinosaur characters by speculating what might have happened if the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago had by-passed the earth. Here, many years after the meteor by-pass, dinosaurs have evolved to develop agriculture and to speak English with American accents. They also now share the earth with a range of creatures that in our world only emerged once the dinosaurs had become extinct.

The film focuses on one Apatosaurusus family Poppa (Jeffrey Wright), Momma (Frances McDormand) and their three children teens Buck (Marcus Scribner) and Libby (Maleah Nipay-Padilla) and youngster Arlo (Jack McGraw). Compared to his siblings Arlo has always felt like a black sheep who has never been able to measure up and constantly seeks some sort of validation. When a tragic accident leaves Arlo stranded alone in the forest he embarks on a journey that tests his ability to survive and sees him befriend a member of a strange new species, man.

Parents be warned The Good Dinosaur has some very sad moments that might upset littlies. It’s also full of those typical skull-shatteringly loud set pieces that plague animated films as Arlo falls down every possible cliff face and knocks himself silly innumerable times.

We’ve seen some remarkable advances in animation in the last few years but the realism with which the landscapes are rendered in The Good Dinosaur is astonishing. Individual blades of grass wave in scenes that could easily be mistaken for real life footage. By contrast, the dinosaurs are depicted in a strikingly unrealistic fashion and look like rubber toys which appears to be a deliberate ploy to make them more endearing as characters and more enticing as merchandise.

As well as it’s visual triumphs the has a rousing score and very effective incidental music.

The voice cast which includes an immediately recognisable Sam Elliot do a fine job even if the dialogue rarely strays from adorably innocent pronouncements from young Arlo to noble quasi-philosophical observations from the older dinosaurs.

It’s familiar stuff but the characters are endearing and on a technical level it’s remarkable.

Nick’s rating: ***.

Genre: Family/ animation.

Classification: PG.

Director(s): Peter Sohn / Sanjay Patel.

Release date:  26th December 2015.

Running time: 100 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.



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