My eldest son turned 6 on Sunday. For a birthday treat, we took him and two of his friends to the cinema to see The Good Dinosaur. It’s a Pixar film, right, what could go wrong…
Well, there’s the small matter of the film being terrible, for one thing.
There was a meme that did the rounds a while ago, on Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/194499277635020646/ . I would suggest they have forgotten their own rules… especially the rule to “get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.” The Good Dinosaur is hugely generic and predictable, obviously borrowing from better films (Dumbo, Jungle Book, Lion King), but losing in the translation, like a piece of paper photocopied again and again, losing resolution each time.
So, in the modern style, here are my 5 reasons why this film sucked. Here, there be SPOILERS.
1 – It’s called The Good Dinosaur. Does the title have ANY relevance to the film? Do they even make good use of having dinosaurs in the film? No.
Dinosaurs have evolved into human-type farmers. This is just another cowboy film.
(Hint to American film producers – I can’t speak for the whole world, obviously, but we are far less fascinated by cowboys, and the Wild West, than you guys… try something different. Please.)
2 – The “driver” for Arlo initially is that he literally wants to make his mark. So what? Don’t we all? This is not a big enough reason to root for him, and the tidal boar that killed off his dad terrified the small children in the audience (as did the pterodactyls later). It all just felt misjudged – something that isn’t usually a problem with Pixar.
3 – The main “plot” is Arlo’s journey home. This is linear and predictable, as are the obstacles that inevitably get in their way. Does Arlo change on his journey? Well, he bonds with the human-dog-child (their relationship is the only bright spark in the film), and becomes less afraid, but… is that it?
4 – The ending is so predictable that the 6 year olds saw it coming… They have seen Jungle Book. There is literally no reason why I would watch this film again. No quotable dialogue, no original characters, no twist in the tail… It’s disappointing on almost every level.
5 – And the killer for me… This doesn’t even feel like a Pixar film. There is none of the verbal comedy, the interplay between characters that we have come to love. Worse still, this just feels like a Disney film without the songs. If this is the future of Disney-Pixar, melding the worst of either side of the equation, count me out. The scenery may look beautiful, but if I wanted only that I’d watch the National Geographic channel.
With the next Pixar films due out being some unnecessary sequels (Finding Nemo is one of the best films ever made, of any genre… but it doesn’t need a sequel… and Toy Story 3 is the best third act of any film trilogy series – inc LOTR – but know when to quit…), I worry that the golden era of this studio has already been and gone.
I sincerely hope I’m wrong.