THE GOOD DINOSAUR (2015) Review
Directed by Peter Sohn
Arlo is the youngest of three, of a dinosaur couple. Poppa and Momma, farmers as the film started hopes to pass on their skills in farming to their three dinosaur children. Libby, the first dinosaur to crack its shell, is the smartest one. Buck, the second to crack open its shell, is the strongest one. Arlo, while his egg is bigger than the first two is smaller than expected and the last to catch up in terms of performance in their farm.
To leave a “mark” in their food supply container as it’s something the family resembles as greatness, Poppa and Momma challenges them to excel in their respective tasks or do something that would help or change their lives for the better. Both Libby and Buck easily gets to leave their mark, successfully finishing the task assigned to them. Arlo, on the other hand finds it difficult to finish victoriously on the tasks given to him because of his fear and doubts of being good like his siblings or better. Poppa, tries something that would easily gain his mark on the family by trying to catch a critter that eats their food supply.
Everything from there felt slow, building the visual structure of Arlo’s family. Typical it may be but director Peter Sohn finds the core of humanity building the story of a dinosaur family. Things eventually stirs when the critter shows up, trapped by what Arlo and Poppa made. Arlo, hesitant on killing the critter, cut the rope for it to escape. This made Poppa furious for them to follow the critter and kill it. But it started to rain, and their course is getting fuzzy making them go back to their home. Bad luck on their side, the river starts to rise and a huge surge of water closing in, Poppa’s only option is to save Arlo from being swept away with him resulting his death.
Arlo and his family tries to move forward with their lives, storing as much food as possible before the first snow arrives. But the critter appears once again, eating inside their food supply container. Arlo angrily follows the critter but accidentally falls on the river and is helplessly swept by its current.
Waking up far from home, Arlo finds himself alone and hurt. Trying to find his way home, Arlo sees the critter again, this time it helps him to find food and takes care of him like he’s his master. Both of them, now in good terms journey together to go back to Arlo’s home. Meeting other dinosaurs and animals, Arlo gets to call the critter Spot when he responds to him in a name calling game with a fellow dinosaur. Sharing time together, they reveal symbolically that Spot doesn’t have parents anymore and Arlo, without a father.
Along the way, Arlo and Spot meets a group of carnivorous Pterodactyls who wants to eat Spot. Luckily, a trio of Tyrannosaurus Rex saves them. Ramsey, Nash and Butch are looking for the buffalo they take care of made a deal with Arlo and Spot that if Spot tracks and finds the buffaloes, they’ll help them in search for Arlo’s home.
Journeying with them, Arlo finds himself in a group that teaches him the value of life, that the scary things doesn’t need to stop you from doing the things you should do and love to do. Friendship formed, Arlo and Spot mutually finds one another in a situation where they want to be with each other in every step of the way. Unusual as it may be, the film does it like any other Pixar film does, magically. The bond between the two is undeniably sweet and ideal for a true friendship.
Just when the two are nearing Arlo’s home, a stranger appears. Could it be Spot’s family? He clearly showed he has none anymore. But it’s a human, it could take better care of Spot. Arlo, afraid of losing Spot manages to get him to move along and continue with their path. Unfortunately, the pterodactyls attacked once more, getting hold of Spot and pushing Arlo off a cliff. The little dinosaur, helplessly getting off the vines it’s trapped upon but only pulling a stone from which it’s stocked making it hit behind his head.
Arlo, hallucinating his father helping him, gets to realize that he needs to save his friend and that even though he’s afraid, he has to do it. Arlo then forces himself to be free from the vines and rushed to Spot. In danger, Spot is trapped in a log between the river which is the only thing that keeps him from being eaten by the pterodactyls. Arlo to the rescue, finds the courage to fight the carnivorous dinosaurs but a big surge of water is upon them. Arlo tries to cover and save Spot but they both ended up in peril floating on a river on a course to fall. But thankfully, Arlo manages to get and save Spot as soon as they fell.
Arlo and Spot, on the way to the farm is caught up with the human. And even though Spot wants to come with Arlo, the little dinosaur knows that he belongs to them. A heartfelt parting and a better future for Spot, Arlo returns home with his family earning his rightful “mark” through his unforgettable journey.
The Good Dinosaur feels like the indie film of Pixar films. The treatment is different but it still resonates what Pixar films do (Cars 2 is an exception, of course), bringing heartfelt stories in a cinematic magical way. It is a celebration of life: the good, the bad, the fears, the journey and the unlikely friendship along the way. Director Peter Sohn transports us back to the age of dinosaurs and tells us a story that is universal and effective for all ages. There’s more than just heartfelt and compelling stories in here, you also get inspiring scenarios, life lessons that should be remembered after watching it.
The storytelling is compelling, the framing and animation is beautiful. This is by far Pixar’s most beautifully-animated film that compliments more than just its characters but also the setting, the view, the landscape. The film is overall, heavy and satisfying. You get more than what you expect, visually and emotionally.
Pixar has done it again, twice in a year.
5 OUT OF 5 STARS
“The Good Dinosaur” is now showing in Philippine cinemas from Walt Disney Studios, locally distributed by Columbia Pictures. Also available in 3D, rated PG-13 by the MTRCB.