The Good Dinosaur / *** ½

The_Good_Dinosaur_UK_PosterLet’s get this out of the way: The Good Dinosaur is absolutely, unquestionably astonishing to look at. Even with a company that’s so often pushed the boundaries of computer animation, The Good Dinosaur is absolutely phenomenal work, creating a landscape that’s nearly indistinguishable from reality, a river that’s photorealistic, and does so while making the beauty as much a part of the film as anything else. Now, if only the script was anywhere near as ready. It’s not that The Good Dinosaur is ever actively bad, per se; to date, Pixar’s only made one truly bad film (Cars 2). But excepting that one failure, it’s hard to argue that The Good Dinosaur is their weakest, most disappointing effort. The story never feels organic or coherent; instead, it feels like a slew of disconnected scenes sort of tied together, with a protagonist who only lurches among them because the script demands it. The film’s villains feel like an afterthought, the supporting cast bland (with the exception of Sam Elliott, but that’s really only because of Elliott’s presence, not the character), many of the sequences dull. Worse than that, it’s heavy-handed and didactic, hammering the same points again and again with blunt dialogue instead of relying on imagery and more indirect means like Pixar does when it’s at the top of its game (Inside Out being the most recent and obvious example). It’s just sort of an overstuffed, rambling mess, and while it never quite got bad enough to be a complete failure, it still gets frustrating – especially because it’s still capable of some great sequences that are as good as anything Pixar’s done (there’s a nighttime conversation about family that’s beautiful and done without more than a word or two of dialogue). If you want a longer, more fleshed out review of the film that both nails its weaknesses and admits its strengths, I can’t recommend Tasha Robinson’s great piece enough; the short version, though, is that it’s a Franken-script made up of lots of good moments than never coalesce into a satisfying, or even good, whole. (That all being said, the short “Sanjay’s Super Team” beforehand, which tells the story of a young Hindu boy’s daydreams while his father prays? Absolutely loved it – imaginative, stylish, and fun. More than made up for “Lava”.) 3andhalf

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