Water. The best element in an animated film set in pre-historic times featuring civilized dinosaurs in all colors, shapes, kinds and sizes is, wait for it, water. Coming from first-time director Peter Sohn, Disney Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur is all kinds of new levels in terms of technical brilliance in photo-realistic animation. The shimmery river water, the Tyndall effects, and for that matter all the landscapes have been so beautifully rendered that it was hard to call this effort an animated feature. The Dolby Atmos sound only bettered the whole experience.
A speculative fiction imagining how different evolution could have been if a particular asteroid had never hit our planet Earth, this film explores the possibilities of dinosaurs evolving to more agrarian lifestyles. One such family of Apatosaurus lives near the Clawed-tooth mountains and works a farm near a river. The family’s youngest member, Arlo, is a too scared to try anything different. While the rest of the family makes its mark on their life’s achievements, Arlo still struggles with overcoming his fear. Soon tragedy strikes, and Arlo finds himself deserted in a place far away from home, with an unusual human-child friend whom he names ‘Spot.’ Spot helps Arlo to find his way back home, an together they set on an adventure that calls for Arlo to confront and overcome all his worst fears.
Now going with the ‘what if dinosaurs weren’t extinct?’ theory, the film-concept states that dinosaurs would have been much more superlative beings compared to humans, and this allows for all the dinosaurs speaking in English while the human mode of conversation is restricted to primitive grunts. The dinosaurs have started farming and herding, while the human is still walking on four limbs and acts as a tamed pet.
I love the treatment Pixar’s giving to its films. It’s taking on the negative aspects of human nature and showing it in a very positive light – “Sadness” in Inside Out, “Fear” in The Good Dinosaur. The gamut of emotions for a young boy who wants to prove himself to the world but is too scared of his environment, and the shame and guilt that further torment him emotionally is presented well. The makers have captured the gore of the real world too. There are manipulative killers who can convince you to your own doom. There’s also the power of nature’s wrath in thunderstorms and raging rivers. But there are also ghastly looking kind souls who can help you in your journey. Friendship can replace hatred to add meaning to your life and make it a better one. It’s life-lessons like these that make this film all the more appealing.
There’s an instance in the film where our protagonists consume fermented berries and appear intoxicated, which apparently has not gone down well with most parents. While it’s right on the parents’ side to be concerned with these elements, but I doubt a 6-year old will relate to it. For that child it’s just two people doing silly things, nothing more.
Sanjay’s Super Team
Sanjay’s Super Team, a 6-minute short film that plays before The Good Dinosaur, is Pixar’s most personal project yet. It reads ‘based on a true story’, and at the end has an image of a younger Sanjay Patel and his dad. This film introduces God to children in the way they are meant to be introduced and acknowledged – as SUPERHEROES! It stays clear of all religious hullabaloo and stays clean on the superhero theme. I immensely enjoyed the action sequence with animated Durga, Hanuman and Vishnu clashing against a mythological demon. I won’t mind if this particular thread is further weaved into a full-length film. That would be something to look forward to.