Follow us on

Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Good Dinosaur

February 22nd, 2016

The Good Dinosaur - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and 3D Combo Pack
Video on Demand

The Good Dinosaur

The Good Dinosaur looks like it will be the first Pixar film to lose money. It cost nearly $200 million to make, while there were reports that the advertising budget was $150 million worldwide. It needed to make over $500 million worldwide to have a shot at breaking even any time soon. It made barely more than $300 million, which wasn't enough to pay for its reported advertising budget. Is it as bad as its box office numbers would suggest? Or is there a reason this film failed to connect with audiences besides quality?

The Movie

The film begins 65 million years ago with a hideously inaccurate look at the asteroid belt. The average distance between object 1 km or larger in the asteroid belt is more than 5 million kilometers. I know, I know. It's just a cartoon. But this is a pet peeve of mine.

A chain reaction causes an asteroid to head for Earth, but it misses. A million years later, the dinosaurs have survived and evolved into intelligent creatures. We meet Henry and Ida, two Apatosaurus farmers. They have three eggs that are about to hatch. The first to hatch is Libby, then Buck, and finally Arlo. While Arlo had the largest egg, he was the runt of the litter. He's the smallest of the three kids and quite timid, to put it mildly. Because of his size, he doesn't adjust to farm life as well as his siblings do.

Henry does have an idea to help Arlo. He takes Arlo to see the fireflies at night to inspire him. Then he gives Arlo a new task. There's a critter that's been sneaking onto their farm and stealing food from their silo. If this keeps up, they won't have enough food for the winter. If Arlo can catch the critter, and take care of it, then Arlo will earn his mark. The trap the two set up does its job, but when Arlo sees the critter, a small boy, he's unable to kill it and instead lets it go. Henry sees and he and Arlo chase after the human boy. They don't find him before a storm approaches and when a flash flood hits, Henry is swept away.

Shortly after that, the young human boy comes for more food. Arlo, who blames the boy for the death of his father, chases him off the farm and tries to get him. However, a similar event happens and this time Arlo is washed into the river. When he awakes, he's far away from home and isn't sure how to make it back. Worse still, he hasn't eaten in a while. His first attempt at getting food ends with him trapped beneath a rock. He struggles to get free, but he can't. Tired he falls asleep and when he wakes up, someone has dug him out. There's no one there, but he recognizes the paw prints belonging to the human boy. Arlo is able to get out and continues his journey home. However, he encounters the human boy again. This time the boy brings him food. Or at least things that the boy thinks are food (a lizard and a really big bug). Finally, when the boy brings Arlo berries, and later protects him from a snake-like creature, they begin to bond and Arlo calls him Spot.

The Good Dinosaur is a simply story about a boy and his dog, only the "boy" is a dinosaur and the "dog" is a human boy. There's nothing objectively wrong with the movie, but it does feel like it is aimed squarely at younger kids. Conversely, most Pixar movies feel like they are aimed at adults first, with stories that will appeal to kids as well. The story is emotionally effective and the story is more epic than with Shaun the Sheep, which is another animated film that had a younger target demographic than anticipated. But still, as an adult fan of digital animation, the story left me wanting.

Again, it's not bad and it has your usual coming of age / overcoming your fears that so many kids movies have. The animation is really smooth and there are scenes that look breath-taking. The acting is great. (Sam Elliott was born to play a T Rex.) I think pre-teens, especially those that like dinosaurs, will love the movie and the action is entertaining enough that there's replay value. If you are an adult, it is worth checking out, but not something you need to buy. Renting it on VOD is probably the best option there.

The Extras

The extras begin with an audio commentary track with Peter Sohn, the director; Kelsey Mann, story supervision; Michael Venturini, animation supervision; Sharon Calahan, director of photography; and Sanjay Bakshi, the technical director.

Up next is Sanjay's Super Team, a short film about an Indian boy who disrupts his father's prayers by watching his super hero cartoon too loudly. His father forces him to pray with him, but the boy becomes bored and imagines he was transported to the Hindu temple. It earned an Oscar nomination, but I don't think it is up to that level.

True Lies about Dinosaurs is a two-minute featurette about the facts the movie fudged to make the movie. Recyclosaurus is about creative games Pixar employees play while making their movies. The Filmmaker's Journey is an eight-minute making of featurette. Every Part of the Dinosaur is a six-minute featurette on creating the characters on the animation level. Following the T-Rex Trail is a seven-minute featurette about the filmmakers journey to a real ranch to research how T. Rexes might raise cattle. Working at Pixar must be so awesome. There are three deleted scenes with a total running time of 11 minutes. This running time includes introductions. Dino Bites is four minutes of short character animated bits. Finally, Hide and Seek is a minute long short with Arlo and Spot playing games.

I don't have the 3D Blu-ray, so I can't look at the 3D effects. That said, it does cost $28, which is more or less in line with the standard price. The Blu-ray costs $20 and the DVD costs $22. The Blu-ray looks like the best deal, but if you have a 3D TV and not enough animated films to watch, this might be something to consider.

The Verdict

The Good Dinosaur is a great movie, for kids. It is only a good movie for adult fans of animation. The DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and 3D Combo Pack has enough extras that it is worth picking up, if you have kids of the right age range. Otherwise, a rental will be enough for most.

Filed under: Video Review, The Good Dinosaur, Sharon Calahan, Sam Elliott, Frances McDormand, Raymond Ochoa, Peter Sohn, Jeffrey Wright, Kelsey Mann, Jack Bright, Marcus Scribner, Maleah Nipay Padilla