Brand new from Disney Pixar and hitting the big screen this Friday is The Good Dinosaur – a brilliantly crafted story of friendship, family, perseverance and survival that will appeal to children and adults alike.
The opening of The Good Dinosaur sees history rewritten. The asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs 65 million years ago actually misses the earth so the dinosaurs continue to survive and evolve. Fast forward several million years and the Apatosaur clan has become farmers, tending the land and harvesting their own crops.
It is here that we join the story and meet baby dino Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa), who works on the land with his parents and siblings, except he isn’t as strong as the rest. He’s smaller and weaker everything scares him, even the family chickens he is sent to feed each day.
Keen to help him overcome his fears, his father sets him the task of catching and killing the animal that is stealing the family’s food supplies. That turns out to be a feral cave boy called Spot (voiced by Jack Bright).
The two end up becoming friends when a storm claims the life of Arlo’s father and the young dinosaur is swept away down the river and separated from his family. Alone and afraid and desperate to get back home, he ends up accepting Spot’s help who has remained fiercely loyal to him, bringing him food and remaining close by his side while he recovers his strength.
The funniest moment of the film is when the pair eat fermented fruit. Cue bizarre psychedelic hallucinations that will leave the adults at least in stitches.
The majority of the film sees them battling against the elements in an attempt to get back to Clawed-Tooth Mountains as the friendship between the two of them grows. Adding to the story are the characters they meet along the way.
The three dinosaurs you expect to be the most threatening, with their scarred bodies and stories of battle, are the kindest. It’s the bullying pterodactyls that are the bad guys. Overcome them and Arlo can overcome anything, which he does.
The mountainous landscapes, the waterfalls, the violent storms are all incredibly realistic. You forget you’re watching an animation. The landscape is hash, rigged and treacherous. It has a Western feel to it, which contrasts with the cartoon-like characters.
If Arlo looked like a strong, fearless mammal the odds of him getting home wouldn’t be against him. It’s the fact that he’s childlike and cartoon-like that makes him loveable.
The Good Dinosaur is sad in parts, funny in others and always captivating. It’s visually stunning and the friendship between Arlo and Spot is incredibly special. They draw you in and keep you there until the very end.
Does Arlo get home to his family? It’s Disney so of course he does. But it’s the life lessons he learns along the way, the fears he overcomes and the belief he develops in himself that are the bigger story.
The Good Dinosaur, in cinemas from November 27th, is rated PG.
Photos: ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved