We reviewed Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur for its theatrical release last year, and decided to give it another look as the film makes its way to home video with the Blu-Ray release. A repeat viewing did little to sway our original opinion, so I’ll quote from the theatrical review:
The Good Dinosaur has been billed as a story about a boy and his dog – only in this case, the boy is a dinosaur, and the dog is a human. It’s an interesting conceit, and director Pete Sohn mines plenty of warmth and humor from the idea. Equally amusing are the different archetypes applied to some of the supporting dinosaur characters, such as a storm-chasing group of Pteranodons or a trio of cattle-driving Tyrannosaurs whose leader is voiced by Sam Elliott.
But it’s the moments between these ideas where The Good Dinosaur suffers a bit. Time and time again, Pixar has shown an uncanny ability to tug at our heartstrings and evoke a genuine emotional response, but much of this film seems more like a retread of material that we’ve already seen before, rather than something new and exciting. Disney is no stranger to films where the protagonist loses a parent and is forced to grow up faster than expected (The Lion King is a prime example), and the story of a wild, unruly companion feels like it’s borrowing pretty heavily from Lilo and Stitch.
Shortcomings aside, The Good Dinosaur is still a heartwarming and enjoyable film that families will no doubt flock to over the long holiday weekend – and from a technical standpoint, it might also be Pixar’s greatest achievement yet. The stylized designs of the characters create a sharp contrast with the backgrounds and environments, all of which look remarkably lifelike, and there are plenty of moments where you’ll swear that you’re watching actual video footage, rather than animation. It’s just a shame that the narrative doesn’t quite measure up to the visuals.
Say what you will about its narrative shortcomings, but there’s no denying that The Good Dinosaur is an absolutely gorgeous film, and the Blu-Ray’s breathtaking 1080p transfer acts as a showcase for Pixar’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of animation. I frequently found myself pressing the pause button just so I could spend a few extra moments admiring the vibrant colors and superb attention to detail.
As with most Disney home video releases, there are plenty of special features packed in with the film itself, including a short collection of deleted scenes, several featurettes, and a full-length audio commentary with director Pete Sohn and several members of the creative team. Also included is Sanjay’s Super Team, the Oscar-nominated short film that preceded The Good Dinosaur on theater screens last year.