The Good Dinosaur (Blu-ray)

February 16, 2016 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

It used to be that once a year Pixar would come out with a movie. And it used to be that each and every Pixar movie made audiences laugh, cry, cheer or anticipate the next. By and large, that’s still the case though in recent years the company (now owned by Disney) has gotten a case of “sequel-itis.” Sadly there is no known cure. Ok, I’m kidding. Toy Story had a couple of sequels and I think we can all agree that they were well worth the wait and were quality entertainment. There’s no showing up the original, of course.  But with recent films like Monsters University and Cars 2, it seems that Pixar was mailing it in. Bad movies? No, not really. They just weren’t up to the standard set by previous films. The summer of 2015 saw not one but two Pixar movies with the first being the critically-acclaimed Inside Out. It was a throwback to some of the earlier films and its rave reviews and box office numbers were a reflection on that. Thanksgiving brought us a second film, The Good Dinosaur. While it wasn’t exactly a flop (it grossed $120 million domestically), that paled in comparison to the $360 million by Inside Out. Which one is for you?

The Good Dinosaur makes its premise on the fact that dinosaurs were not wiped out 65 million years ago by an asteroid, but rather evolved and are now farmers. That sounds a bit odd to say (type), but that’s essentially the way it was spelled out.  We meet proud parents to be Poppa (voiced by Jeffrey Wright) and Momma (voiced by Frances McDormand) as they welcome a trio of young ones into the world. Buck (voiced by Marcus Scribner) is the feistiest of the bunch, Spot (voiced by Jack Bright) is gone in the blink of an eye and Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa) is the literal runt of the litter with feet three times the size they should be. Poppa is determined to rid Arlo of his fears, but through an unfortunate series of events, is lost.  Arlo is then separated from the rest of his family and must learn to survive in the wild along with his new “primate” friend. We have to wonder if Arlo will ever find his way back home and, if so, will he be a changed dinosaur or live in the shadow of his siblings?

This is a different sort of Pixar film in that it’s the only one I can think of that’s really geared for kids. Yes, I realize that all of the films are probably aimed at that demographic, but the “beauty” of the Pixar movies has always been that there’s an equal amount of humor that appears to adults as well. This one doesn’t seem to follow that precedent. The film certainly seems to borrow more than a bit form other films like The Land Before Time, though it has its own unique flare. I found myself feeling sorry for the main character instead of chuckling at pop culture references made in other Pixar films. The movie is entertaining, though I feel that this is something that you could sit a child in front of and have them be entertained for 90 minutes. At any rate, though it lacks the allure of some of the other Pixar films, it’s still enjoyable, well made and has a good overall theme, it’s not one that I’ll revisit over and over.

Video: How’s it look?

I don’t think there’s a Pixar film that I’ve seen that I haven’t been enamored with visually. The Good Dinosaur is certainly no different. The opening montage has nature scenes that look so incredibly lifelike, I actually had to pause the movie to see if I could tell if it was a live action clip or something done in the digital realm. Yes, it’s that impressive. Some of the shots looked like a photograph. If that doesn’t tell you how amazingly good the image quality is, then I give up. Disney’s presentation of the film shows a very wide 2.40:1 AVC HD image that’s second to none. The texture on the faces of the dinosaurs, that of the ground and even the rushing water in the river are all so amazing it’s like looking out a window. Of course colors are bright and vivid, the contrast is rock solid and I’ll have to say that this is probably one of the most stunning displays I’ve seen on disc – ever.

Audio: How’s it sound?

Almost as impressive as the way this looks is how it sounds. I’d long ago shunned my belief that just because something is animated, it can’t sound good. Not true. The DTS HD Master Audio sound mix is immersive with splashes in the water, a roaring river, chase sequences and rocks falling. These really do a great job of getting the viewer involved in the film. Of course, being a Pixar film, we’ve got a slew of actors voicing their respective parts with Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Steve Zahn, Anna Paquin and, in the most obvious casting ever, Sam Elliott. Each has their own unique charm. Directional effects are used with great ambition and the LFE give life to a few of the more action-oriented scenes. All in all, a great-sounding track. Are you surprised?

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Audio Commentary – Director Peter Sohn along with an entourage of technical and artistic folks, deliver a fairly straight-forward track that tells of the motivation for the film, its themes, visual and creative choices and the like. It’s a good track, though I wonder why this is included at a movie aimed squarely at kids? Oh well, better to have than have not.
  • Sanjay’s Super Team – I guess what I took away from this would be a little father-son bonding time?
  • True Lies About Dinosaurs – Creationists, this does not apply to you. However for the rest of us, we get a little fact checking as to what really know about dinosaurs.
  • Recyclosaurus – Some of the employees of Pixar use donated goods for a rather different cause, namely to make dinosaurs out of stuff.
  • The Filmmakers’ Journey – Every time I see “…Journey” as a title of a featurette, it’s usually the same. This is no different, it’s just an overall look at the filmmaking process for this movie.
  • Every Part of the Dinosaur – This has been a part of other Pixar discs as well, but we get a look at how the creatures and characters are conceived and ultimately “made” for the film.
  • Following the T-Rex Trail – We follow the crew as they travel to a cattle ranch for some inspiration.
  • Deleted Scenes – Each of the trio of deleted scenes are preceded by an introduction from Director Peter Sohn.
      The Attack

      Building the Silo

      Waiting for Poppa

  • Dino Bites – Nothing like animated characters hamming it up for the camera…
  • Hide and Seek – It’s…pretty much exactly what you think.
  • Trailers – Three total, one in Russian, German and English.

The Bottom Line

Aimed squarely at children, The Good Dinosaur is a departure for Pixar. I wouldn’t put it in the pantheon of their films like The Incredibles, Finding Nemo or Toy Story but it’s entertaining nonetheless. The Blu-ray offers up a perfect picture, outstanding sound and enough supplements to warrant a purchase.

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