Monday, November 07, 2016
The Good Dinosaur
Directed by Peter Sohn and screenplay by Meg LaFauve from a screen story by Sohn, LaFauve, Bob Peterson, Erick Benson, and Kelsey Mann from an idea by Bob Peterson (with additional material by Peter Hedges and Adrian Molina), The Good Dinosaur is the story of a dinosaur who meets a young cave boy as they travel through mysterious landscapes so they can return home. The film is set in an alternate universe where dinosaurs aren’t extinct as it play into a dinosaur coming of age while helping a young cave boy. Featuring the voices of Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Sam Elliott, Anna Paquin, A.J. Buckley, Steve Zahn, Jeffrey Wright, and Frances McDormand. The Good Dinosaur is a wondrous and majestic film from Peter Sohn and Pixar Animation Studios.
Set some million years after an asteroid had missed hitting planet Earth that would’ve caused the extinction of dinosaurs, the film revolves around a young Apatosaurus who is consumed by fear for much of his life as he falls down a river only to saved and protected by a young cave boy as they make a journey to return home. It’s a film that is a simple story of a young dinosaur trying to conquer through his fear as well as the fact that it’s about a dinosaur trying to make his own mark with a family of Apatosaurus creatures who are essentially farmers. For the young Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), he is trying to find his place as a farmer but when meeting this cave boy that he would eventually call Spot (Jack Bright. Arlo would eventually go into an adventure where he would meet other dinosaurs as it would play into his development from a young scared dinosaur to someone who would learn about being brave but also realize that it is OK to be scared.
Peter Sohn’s direction is truly mesmerizing for the way he presents the world that is evolving yet kind of peaceful as it’s really just dinosaurs living their lives as the family that Arlo is part of. The film opens with the shot of planet Earth as it was back in the days when dinosaurs as an asteroid is about to enter the Earth’s atmosphere only to pass by it as the dinosaurs get a glimpse and continue to do what they do. Sohn’s usage of the wide and medium shots showcases a world that is quite beautiful as well as have something that is quite prosperous in what Arlo’s family does as farmers. There is something that is light-hearted and comedic in the first act in what Sohn does but when the second act begins where Arlo has to go into his own journey when chasing Spot over a handmade silo that his father had built had been opened. The film becomes not just an adventure story but also a coming-of-age story where Arlo has to contend with his surroundings but with the help of Spot.
With the aid of cinema Sharon Calahan and Mahyar Abousaeedi and production designer Harley Jessup, the film has a very evocative look into the way the many locations look like as well as in their lighting. Notably in scenes where Arlo’s father (Jeffrey Wright) shows him the beauty of overcoming one’s fear through fireflies as it is one of these little moments that are touching. Sohn would also create sequences that are rich in its imagery that include a sequence where Arlo and Spot meet a trio of Tyrannosaurus Rexes as has this great depth of field into the landscape as it is also a character-changing moment for Arlo. Especially in what he would have to do to show who he is and what he can do to show that he can no longer be afraid. Overall, Sohn crafts an exhilarating yet heartwarming film about a young dinosaur overcoming his fear to help a young cave boy.
Editor Stephen Schaffer does excellent work with the editing as it feature some unique rhythmic cuts to play into some of the suspense and adventure as well as in some of the drama. Sound designer Craig Berkey does brilliant work with the sound as it help create textures into the sounds of the way the flash floods would sound as well as some of the spare aspects of nature. The film’s music by Jeff and Mychael Danna is amazing for its music score that mixes elements of folk, country, and orchestral pieces to play into some of the serene moments in the film as well as some of the adventurous moments.
The voice casting by Natalie Lyon and Kevin Reher is fantastic as it feature some notable vocal contributions from Pixar regular John Katzenberger as well as Dave Boat, Calum Mackenzie Grant, and Carrie Paff as a group of Velociraptors trying to steal a herd of longhorns from the T-rexes while director Peter Sohn is terrific as a Styracosaurus named Forrest who is kind of this chameleon-like dinosaur. Other notable small voice roles include Marcus Scribner and Maleah Padilla in their respective roles as Arlo’s sibling’s Buck and Libby, Mandy Freund and Steve Clay Hunter as a couple of pterodactyls, and Steve Zahn in a superb voice performance as a fearless but crazy pterodactyl named Thunderclap. Anna Paquin and A.J. Buckley are fantastic in their respective roles as the young T-rexes in Ramsey and Nash who are quite wild and full of joy while Sam Elliott is excellent as their father Butch who is this grizzled Tyrannosaurus Rex that gives Arlo some wisdom about fear as well as the confidence that fear can be overcome as well as be OK to be scared.
While he doesn’t get to say much, Jack Bright’s voice performance as Spot does have a lot of life as a boy who is quite wild but is also dazzled by the wonderment of his surroundings. Frances McDormand and Jeffrey Wright are brilliant in their roles as Arlo’s parents with McDormand as this sense of warmth who guide her children on what to do to earn their mark while Wright has this weariness yet determination as a father trying to guide his son to overcome his fear as well as find himself. Finally, there’s Raymond Ochoa in an amazing vocal performance as Arlo as this young Apatosaurus who has dealt with a lot of fear in his life as he exudes all of the growing pains any young person faces while he would eventually become someone brave as well as show what it takes to overcome fear.
The Good Dinosaur is a phenomenal film from Peter Sohn. It’s a film that features a story that is just compelling and relatable to a wide audience as well as filled with gorgeous visuals, a strong voice cast, and incredible music as it’s one of Pixar’s finest films. In the end, The Good Dinosaur is a sensational film from Peter Sohn.
Pixar Films: Toy Story - A Bug's Life - Toy Story 2 - (Monsters Inc.) - (Finding Nemo) - The Incredibles - Cars - Ratatouille - WALL-E - Up - Toy Story 3 - Cars 2 - Brave - Monsters University - Inside Out - (Finding Dory) - (Cars 3) - Coco - Incredibles 2 - Toy Story 4 - (Onward) - Soul (2020 film)
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