‘The Good Dinosaur’ Review: An Awe-Inspiring Tale of Friendship and Perseverance

Read our complete review of The Good Dinosaur. The beautiful scenery, the great friendship – but, is it all rosey?
The Good Dinosaur Forrest Woodbush Screencap

Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur delivers a sweet story of friendship set in a visual masterpiece that will leave you in awe. Read our full review of the film below (some spoilers included) and join us live on-air tonight, November 30 (details after the review) to discuss the film in more detail.

In a world where dinosaurs have evolved to be like humans, our hero, Arlo (a young Apatosaurus) goes on an unexpected journey through some of the most beautiful cinematic CG scenes ever produced. The filmmakers did a wonderful job establishing danger and fear in the beautiful surroundings that ultimately became the film’s main hurdle – along with Arlo’s fearful disposition.

During the journey, Arlo encounters a variety of creatures including Spot, the human boy who is more dog-like than human. While some theatergoers voiced their want for more characters (i.e., dinosaurs), we felt the interaction between the minimal cast was enough as we were focused on Arlo, Spot, and the journey (the heart of the film).

The Good Dinosaur Spot Screencap

The emotional connection that we felt to Arlo and Spot was instant. Although the main story seemed to ebb and flow (just as the river showcased in the film), Arlo and Spot’s friendship was magical and effortless with most of their scenes leaving us laughing or wiping tears off our cheeks.

However, a few gag scenes seem to be the divider between audience members who either loved the film or thought it left them wanting more. In particular, the scene that seems to have caused the most strife is when Arlo and Spot ate some fermented fruit sending them into a hallucination-filled state (which sort of mirrored the wackiness of the Abstract Thought scene from Inside Out).

Some audience members thought the scene pushed the “trippiness” too far, while others roared with laughter – there’s even an entire thread dedicated to this scene in the Pixar Post Forum.

The Good Dinosaur soundtrack

Accompanying the film is the alluring score by Michael Danna and Jeff Danna (read our full soundtrack review here) who created various western tones, international drum beats, and beautiful piano notes mirrored perfectly in the song, “Orphans”. Since the film only contains about 20% dialogue, the composers really had to bring their own unique cinematic voice to the film – which we think shined best on the songs “Fireflies”, “Sky Sharks” and “Goodbye Spot”.

The Good Dinosaur tends to be a bit more intense than their previous catalog of features. Particularly the scenes with the pterodactyls comping on critters, the stormy weather, and the intensely emotional demise of Poppa (Arlo’s father). While the scenes shocked some audience members a bit, we felt they were necessary and we were reminded of our recent conversation with Toy Story That Time Forgot director Steve Purcell, who shared that during the intense battle scenes of the television special the team would follow up these intense moments with a gag, or lighthearted moment.

The Good Dinosaur Raptors Screencap

The technological advancements within the film are remarkable. The team utilized every bit of their resources creating a photo realism look in the CG space while doubling the number of effects of any other Pixar film to date. The river scenes alone were a visual marvel, but with the implementation of 3D volumetric cloudsThe Good Dinosaur wasn’t just a feature film but a living and breathing art piece.

Adding depth to the film was the stereoscopic team who enhanced the film using 3D technology — we feel The Good Dinosaur is a must for a 3D screening as the rows of crops on Arlo’s farm popped and the intensity of the rapids seemed to roar in your face (though not gimmicky).

We welcome your thoughts on the film as well – what moments did you laugh at the most? What moments were the most intense? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below or sharing more details in the Pixar Post Forum.


You can also join us this evening (November 30) at 10:00 PM EST / 7:00 PM PST as we’ll discuss our thoughts (and compile yours) regarding The Good Dinosaur in more detail on our YouTube Live discussion.

Watch directly on YouTube or watch along right here (with the embedded video below). In addition to the Google Hangout, you can also start chatting about your thoughts regarding the movie in the Pixar Post Forum. We’ll compile reader feedback from the Forum and Twitter for our On-Air Hangout as well, so leave a comment or tweet us and we may share your review.

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