In the world of CGI animation, Pixar still leads the pack and has a pretty flawless track record. In the past 20 years – ever since it made a massive splash with Toy Story, and showed that computer animated films actually could have heart and soul – Pixar has racked up hit after hit. Even their lesser films, such as both Cars (which I liked a lot) and Brave, did OK both critically and financially. It looks as though The Good Dinosaur (the Second Pixar film released in 2015, after Inside Out) might be the Disney-owned studio's first flop - it has yet to even make back its $200m budget, and the reviews have not been overwhelmingly positive.
On the plus side, TGD is probably the best-looking Pixar film to date. The backgrounds are so photorealistic that some people have even thought they were films that the animators drew on top of. They're not, of course, just exceptionally good CGI. So its looks scrumptious, but what lets the flm down is the rather lacklustre story; it lacks the usual depth that we are used to seeing from Pixar. The initial setup is quite clever – what if the asterdoid that wiped out the dinosaurs 65m years ago had actually bypassed the Earth and they continued to evolve? Our hero is Arlo (Ochoa), a member of a family of Apatosaurs who run a farm for a living. Arlo is a bit of a wimp (he's the runt of the litter) and when he gets lost in the wilderness, his new pet boy, Spot, accompanies him on his journey home.
Yes, TGD relies on the age-old template of "the hero's journey" for its plot, and doesn't realy do anything new with it. The best thing about the film is that it takes the classic idea of a boy and his dog and flips it – this time, the boy is the dog and the talking dinosaur is the master (in this world, the humans have yet to develop speech). Arlo and Spot face dangers (from some rather nasty velociraptors and pterodactyls) and have all sorts of adventures, even encountering some friendly cattle-rancher T-Rexes. The film had some major problems during development which saw original director Bob Peterson fired and replaced by Sohn, but it seems that it never recovered. It does have its moments – there are a couple of mighty big laughs, and it is probably the first Pixar film in which one of its characters pees – but its not enough to lift The Good Dinosaur above the average.