The other night my friend Tasha and I went to see Pixar’s latest movie. I was excited for another film from Pixar after falling in love with every aspect of Inside Out earlier this year. I was underwhelmed and unsure by the trailer but I wanted to see it because I love Pixar and their easter eggs and the whole theory so I wanted to see what this new thing was.
From the beginning I was uncertain about the movie as it was going along. There was definitely a sweet feel to the family that Arlo was in but there was something very same-y about the way the film was playing out. Seeing Arlo’s father die wasn’t as shocking as it could have been given that Disney and Pixar very often kill off parental characters very early on in films. This has become almost predictable in the way that death is used to push the main character onto a story. I won’t list previous Disney and Pixar films that have done it, we’ll be here all day. Here’s just a couple.
- Finding Nemo
- The Lion King
- Fox and the Hound
Need I continue? I’m not meaning to be too harsh to Disney and Pixar by writing this, I adore many of the films that they have made, including the ones listed above and of course they aren’t the only film companies to do so. The 2009 Star Trek film made my paramount pictures does exactly the same thing. It’s a tried and tested plotline but it would be nice if it wasn’t the only thing used.
As the film continued I was drawn into the friendship between Arlo and Spot. Companionship and friendship are themes I love to see within any form of storytelling and with these two it was especially interesting because there was no verbal way for the two of them to communicate. Spot was very much like a pet dog for Arlo but like many pets people have he was more like a friend. The friendship was beautiful but again it lacked originality.
Tangent: I’m trying hard not to hate on this film so I want to say here and now that I did enjoy it. With Pixar, I always find I either fall in love with the movie completely (see Inside Out, Brave and Monsters University as examples) or I find them okay but I can take them or leave them (Finding Nemo, Toy Story and Monsters Inc are examples). The Good Dinosaur is on the latter end. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again, but I wouldn’t avoid it completely.
Getting back to the point, Spot and Arlo’s friendship was rather cliched in the sense that it was born of from hatred that turned into a realisation that they were actually very alike. It was beautifully portrayed and I loved the growth they shared together but it’s been done countless times.
That’s to say I didn’t end up in tears when they were separated. I thought Pixar handled that scene beautifully and it was absolutely heartwrenching. There was a clear growth in Arlo there as he pushed Spot away to make him understand he needed to be with his people. It was also beautiful the way they reunited Arlo with his mother.
The issue I have is that aside from going from scared to brave in almost one scene there didn’t seem to be much growth in character. Arlo seemed to flit after the scene with the Raptors and that was it. From the beginning Spot was always alone and able to fend for himself so there was no real growth there.
All in all when it comes to plot, I think this was one of Pixar’s weakest films. I enjoyed it but I couldn’t say that I loved it for the storyline. There was however, something that I did truly truly love about the film.
The animation of the scenery. Almost every frame of this movie was absolutely stunning to look at. From the river running clear and reflecting everything around it to the brown murky water that flooded and caused disaster. From the mountain range to the open land with the wildebeest. From fireflies to flying birds. Everything was so overwhelmingly gorgeous that I would probably watch the film again just to marvel at the beauty in everything that surrounds the characters.