Saturday I had the opportunity to see an early screening of Disney/Pixar's "The Good Dinosaur" through ASIFA,
I had mixed feelings about the film.
Story: Without giving anything away, the plot of this film was a bit bland for me. There were several moments that took me out of the movie where I thought, oh, this is Lion King, and oh, this is Homeward Bound. I didn't quite understand what the feelings behind the movie were supposed to be. Then there were the few moments where the plot decided to hit us over the head with things. Telling us what we should be thinking, rather than crafting a strong enough premise to ensure we come up with that ourselves. Also, I felt there was a great opportunity at the end of the film that they did not act on. However, there were several moments within the film that I loved. Some fairly moving, some pretty funny. Yet sadly, good moments does not make a great film.
Characters: The voice acting is something I want to immediately address. The choices they made to have very accent heavy voices was difficult for me. Every time the dad (with a strong southern farmer twang) spoke, all I could think of was a baked beans commercial. The main characters, Spot and Arlo, have a great connection and their relationship successfully imitated a boy and dog scenario. The supporting characters were pretty weak (with exception to the dad trex, he was great). If you don't know, I'm a huge villain fan. This was a let down of the film for me. There was no real villain in the traditional sense and I felt that lack of tension. Classic "man" vs Nature film.
Visuals: The juxtaposition of styles has been the reason behind a lot of my hesitancy for seeing this film since the first teaser. The hyper-realistic background design with the cartoony dinosaurs is just weird to me. It didn't mesh in my brain. After watching the film, my assumption as to why they did that is so that the characters would stand out against the lush environments. I get it. I didn't personally care for it. And hats off to the Pixar Shading and Sims teams. There were some shots in the beginning that looked like live action film and the water sims were just insane. The animation itself was gorgeous. There were moments I would watch the dinosaurs move and see how amazing the rigging was to allow for all these minute muscle movements.
After mulling on the film over the weekend, my overall feeling is good, but not great. Maybe its because this film is coming from Pixar and I have such high expectations of them, but I would rank it in the middle of their franchises (underneath WallE and Monsters Inc, above Cars and Brave). Definitely worth seeing, especially as an animation-holic, but don't expect to leave with your mind blown.