Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The Good Dinosaur (2015)

Holy schnitzels in stew! another animated prehistoric movie for kids! another one! Lets be honest here, there are only so many ways in which a movie like this can pan out, and they've all been exhausted. Despite that this movie does have one redeeming idea, one solitary idea that hasn't yet been used, as far as I'm aware. That idea is simply, the vast asteroid that supposedly wiped out the dinosaurs back in whatever period BC, actually missed the Earth and the dinosaurs continued to thrive. That is the one and only feature of this movie that is seemingly original, everything else is purely cookie cutter crapola which I simply cannot believe they have rolled out yet again.

So guest what happens here, well its all about a young dinosaur getting lost from home and having to find his way back again, familiar huh. A nice family of dinosaurs that seemingly live in America, that's the impression you get with the farm setting anyway. You got the house/farmbound mummy dinosaur, the strong and hard working daddy dinosaur and their three kiddie dinosaurs. Two of which are regular errmm...dinosaur type kids, and the third, Arlo, is the weakling of the litter, smaller and more useless. Over time the kids grow up and reach their pre-teen years, I'm guessing, everything is coming along nicely with the farm and two of the dino kids, whilst Arlo is often too scared and weak to accomplish anything. When a small feral human boy is discovered eating their precious crops the dinosaurs try to capture him, eventually doing so the daddy dinosaur tries to get Arlo to kill the young human, but he can't do it and sets him free instead. Disappointed in Arlo the father takes him off to track down the human and to try and make Arlo grow up a bit, toughen up...by killing an innocent life form, K. During this father, son scenario, a storm comes along creating a flash flood, which kills Arlo's father. This leaves the dinosaur family to fend for themselves without a strong male role model to lead them. Eventually Arlo comes across the feral human eating their crops again, he chases the human away but accidentally falls into the local river and is swept away. Thus begins Arlo's predictable journey back home.

I still can't believe they were allowed to make a movie with this plot, the most basic and overused plot idea ever, young person/creature must find its way home with the help of another plucky companion. I mean holy shit! how corny, cliche, predictable and stereotypical can you possibly get?! For a start all the characters are cliche as fuck with the stereotypical hard working mummy and daddy dinosaurs that appear to be poor but honest. They both toil on their farm and raise their young dinosaurs well, as best they can, teaching them the ways of farming...what?? Why do these dinosaurs have a farm? why do they have buildings, a garden, equipment etc...they're bloody dinosaurs, they don't have arms, hands or fingers, how did they even make this stuff?? What's so daft is you never see any other dinosaurs with any of this stuff, you don't see any evidence of anything like that anywhere accept with this family. So what's the deal here? do dinosaurs utilise buildings and equipment in general? is this family a bit special? or are we suppose to be in the middle of nowhere with this story? As I already said it does seem like this family are the equivalent of people that would be in the US, somewhere central like Kansas or Nebraska perhaps, maybe even further out west seeing as most dinosaurs have a southern drawl.

Arlo is an annoyingly pathetic character, he's just overly useless frankly, the feral human is naturally more animalistic than human and acts more like a loyal dog eventually, hence he is called Spot. Along the way they come cross various cliched dinosaur characters such as a gang of nasty Pterodactyls that wanna eat Spot, a stoned-like, hippy-ish Styracosaurus, another gang of nasty Velociraptors with heavy southern accents, and a trio of Tyrannosaurus that are apparently herding longhorn dinosaurs? So...are these longhorn dinosaurs like cattle then? do only certain species of dinosaur talk in this alternative universe? the ones that talk are more evolved or something? Not many dinosaurs in this universe either it seems, the land is pretty sparse with both dinosaurs and humans, you'd think there would be loads of them, more so dinosaurs.

The one thing this movie does have in its favour is the visuals. The CGI is astoundingly good here, every scene looks stunning, all the landscapes look perfect in every way. The water effects are some of the best I've ever seen, the weather, trees, crops, plants, clouds...everything looks incredible. So it does make you wonder why the actual characters in the movie look so crap, I mean all the characters, all the dinosaurs, yeah...they all look crap. Honesty this was such a weird decision if you ask me, the backdrops are all literately photo-realistic, the CGI on the landscapes is so good it looks like actual live action footage, in fact its so close I dunno why they didn't just use live action footage. Yet in comparison, all the dinosaurs look like they've been realised in plasticine, and to top that, they don't look like real dinosaurs, they are all designed to look like cartoons. So you have these eye-poppingly gorgeous, realistic landscapes, with these really immature, soppy looking dinosaurs running around in them. Its literately like looking at two completely different movies that have been awkwardly spliced together. I mean the Pterodactyls and the Styracosaurus don't look too bad, but the T-Rex, Raptors and Arlo's family just look ridiculous. The feral human Spot actually looks reasonably OK but still very cartoonish, but for a cartoon he looks decent enough, I guess.

I found this movie to be very confusing really, sure the kids will just enjoy the goofy dinosaurs and vivid colours, but if you look a bit deeper none of this makes any real sense. Yeah I know its a kids flick but still, I have to ask myself how this world works, I was actually curious to see other parts of the world and how dinosaurs live. I'll be honest and say the film did throw me a curve ball originally as I didn't know what the plot was about at first. When the human kid turned up I fully expected another cliched comedy with the wacky antics of a dinosaur family and their new human pet. Something along the lines of the Ice Age franchise but with smarter, more authentic visuals. Maybe that's what they should of done instead of this completely outdated and ancient direction where we follow Arlo trying to find his way home after getting swept away. He must have been unconscious in that river for a long time sheesh! You'd think he would only have to follow the river back in the right direction, after working out which direction of course, and how come he didn't drown?

If you're looking for a new stellar Pixar movie, then you'd best look elsewhere I'm afraid, wait for the next offering. This is clearly aimed squarely at kids more so than anything they have done before, with little here to engage the adults. The entire movie is a cheese fest top loaded with many moments of deus ex machina, along with every cliche in the book. Its very simplistic, very conventional and not particularly challenging in any way.