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REVIEW: The Good Dinosaur is just shy of being great

An Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend in the movie The Good Dinosaur.
An Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend in the movie The Good Dinosaur. Pixar

PIXAR'S latest film The Good Dinosaur is a great family movie.

It's charming, wholesome and has a good central moral fibre. But it's perhaps the first Pixar film I feel doesn't quite live up to the incredibly high standard set by the Oscar-winning animation house. That said, it still outshines many other animated movies released over the past few years.

The Good Dinosaur follows the trials of a young Apatosaurus named Arlo. The nobbly-kneed runt of the family, Arlo struggles to match the stride of his bigger, stronger siblings Buck and Libby.

Despite growing up in the safe and nurturing environment of his family's farm in the American Rocky Mountains, Arlo is scared of nearly everything.

This is a world based on the idea that dinosaurs could have evolved to become intelligent, social and cultural animals if they hadn't suffered mass extinction.

Humans, instead, are the pesky, feral "critters" who continually raid the grain stores of Arlo's family.

After a traumatic event, Arlo finds himself alone and lost.

As he tries to find his way home, he reluctantly befriends a young boy, Spot, who is more like a wild dog than a human.

Apatosaurus Arlo and his human friend Spot in a scene from The Good Dinosaur.
Apatosaurus Arlo and his human friend Spot in a scene from The Good Dinosaur. Pixar

It's a coming-of-age story that has lessons for young cinema-goers, from confronting fears and persevering through challenges to the importance of family and accepting others.

My main gripe with The Good Dinosaur is that it feels like it borrows from a lot of other classic family films.

One scene that takes place in a meadow at night and the fact that Arlo loses a parent are both reminiscent of The Lion King, while parts of Arlo's journey echo Finding Nemo.

To Pixar's credit, the animation is absolutely stunning. The landscapes are incredibly realistic and even a simple shot of rain falling on leaves is breathtaking.

The Good Dinosaur is exactly that: a good film that falls shy of being great, at least by Pixar's standards.

 It opens on Saturday.

 

The Good Dinosaur

Stars: Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Anna Paquin, Sam Elliott.

Director: Peter Sohn

Rating: PG

Verdict: 3.5/5 stars

Topics:  boxing day movies disney pixar


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