Tyler Ku’ulani Lopez
The Good Dinosaur wasn’t given a ton of attention from Disney and Pixar leading up to the release. It was a movie that had been in development for some time and yet when released it was just not heralded as a hit. I am a big Disney/Pixar fan, so I was looking forward to just what this movie was all about. However, maybe the better title would be “The Pretty Good Dinosaur.”
1 – Writing: 8/10
The writing is above average I’d say. Disney/Pixar always do a great job of coming up with a cohesive and surprisingly emotional story; regardless of whether you’re looking at a movie about talking cars, talking dinosaurs, talking cutlery, they are all heartfelt characters. Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa and Jack McGraw) is your main character and his journey isn’t new or special, but still heartfelt.
2 – Direction: 7/10
I thought there were only one or two chances really taken in this one. I won’t spoil anything, but there are a couple of very cool shots that will strike a chord in your blackened and bitter hearts.
3 – Cinematography: 6/10
Not a lot of iconic looks in this movie. I thought it was okay, but the firefly scene doesn’t quite live up to the beautifully done Wall-E fire extinguisher scene or the view of Buzz Lightyear falling from the second story after trying to make it to the window. Excuse me while I wipe tears from my eyes.
4 – Acting: 7/10
Obviously, we’re talking about animated characters so acting is a bit harder to judge, but there was nothing special here. Part of that is because Arlo’s human counterpart Spot (voiced by Jack Bright) doesn’t really have many lines, so the “acting” part is really just the animating. The animations had a very cool style about them, but the voice acting was about as patently average as you could get. Raymond Ochoa was solid. Hopefully he gets more work for this.
5 – Editing: 6/10
Somehow this movie felt long to me even though it was just 100 minutes. There were a couple parts I probably didn’t need that were fun and entertaining, but honestly not all that memorable. I’d probably have parsed this down just a bit. It’s a nitpick but that’s what I’m here for!
6 – Sound: 8/10
Sound quality was great. I’ll touch on this later, but Peter Sohn and company did a solid job of creating this world that was hyper realistic sometimes, but very animated at others. The sound was a big part of that.
7 – Score/Soundtrack: 6/10
The music by Michael and Jeff Danna didn’t touch my soul, but it also didn’t clash with the movie or anything. Meh.
8 – Production Design: 9/10
One of my favorite parts about this movie is the feel of it. The surroundings are at times hyper realistic where you can almost feel the bark on a tree or the dry leaves underfoot. However, the characters are more cartoonish and animated in style when they move. It’s such an interesting look that at times I’d catch myself not paying attention to the movie from just looking at the visuals. This movie looks, feels, sounds, smells and tastes real. **Disclaimer: don’t lick the screen; it doesn’t taste good**
9 – Casting: 7/10
I have no real complaints, but to be honest I don’t know who most of the cast was. The only one I actively recognized during the movie was Sam Elliott (as Butch, a Tyrannosaurus) whose voice is impossible not to recognize.
10 – Effects: 8/10
I touched on the feel of the movie, but the animation was strong too. I mean it was exactly what you’ve come to expect from Disney/Pixar; beautiful visuals and seamless motion. They did about as great a job as you could imagine when it comes to making me think a dinosaur was sprinting or a human was essentially a dog.
Overall Score: 7.2/10
Wow, I didn’t expect the score to be so completely average, but it totally was. Like I said, I’m a huge Disney/Pixar fan. I loved all the Toy Stories, Wall-E, Up and I thought Inside Out was one of the best movies of 2015 (and one of the best animated films I’ve ever seen). This one is a tier below those. This one is closer to A Bug’s Life or Cars or Brave to me, which are all pretty good movies, but just not the same caliber as the upper echelon Disney/Pixar films. Worth watching at home, but in the event someone is still showing it for some reason, go ahead and pass on it.