December 28, 2015

The Good Dinosaur (2015)

There are two questions you never want to find yourself asking while watching a movie:

1. Of what other movies does this remind me?
2. How long is this going to run?

The answers to which, were:

1. The Lion King, AvatarCity Slickers, and Mater from Cars
2. Long enough for me to get bored. Then realize there was still 30+ minutes left. Of a 90 minute film.

The Good Dinosaur started with some good ideas, some amazing animated cinematography, then got sidetracked by making the most sappy, predictable, boring story possible with its components.

The animation of the landscapes are amazing. Really. When the movie first started, I thought it had been photographed and we were going to end up with a throwback Disney Mary Poppins-type animated and real life mixed movie. It's that good.

And the idea of dinosaurs never going extinct, but surviving until they overlap with humans? Interesting premise. And sort of clever to make the dinosaurs the protagonists, with their "civilized life" of domesticated agriculture, while humans remain essential wild and dangerous. But is it 90 minutes-worth of clever and interesting? Not by a long shot.

The characters are weak and predictable. Yeah yeah, everyone loves an underdog, but isn't there anything else to be added to this narrative of "weak and timid protagonist with a good heart proves to himself and his bullying sibling/parent/friends/whatever that he is actually strong inside through some arduous journey?" Blah, blah, blah.

What makes a movie like this boring and a movie with a similar premise--say, Hercules--interesting is the detail surrounding the main narrative. In Hercules, the supporting characters are more numerous and have more depth. Meg layers the complexity of good people who do bad things, Hades and his sidekicks are both evil yet provide comic relief, etc. Even Pegasus the horse (who doesn't talk) is more entertaining than the wild little boy in The Good Dinosaur. All we get here are short cameos from redneck dinosaurs like Buck and Butch and Nash. Didn't we already have to suffer through a prototypical "hick" character in both Cars and The Frog Princess?

This movie relies on only two characters--one of whom doesn't speak a word--to fill the entire time and carry the emotional load it tries to dump on the viewer. Instead, it comes off as predictable and trying too hard. Castaway, this is not.

Maybe it was the Western theme. I don't hate Westerns, though I am hard pressed to think of any I love beyond Young Guns (Kiefer!) and Tombstone (Val!). Or maybe it was the fact that a movie about dinosaurs managed to only have a whopping 5 types of dinosaurs (one of which was in the movie for about 30 seconds). Or the fact that the apatosaurus kids' entire goal in life was to put their stupid footprint on a grain storage bin.

In the current climate of remakes and sequels, I was genuinely excited to see a new movie with original characters. But I haven't been this let down from a Disney movie since Brave. At least I can rest assured it won't win Best Animated Feature against Inside Out.

Final word: It's a bad sign when the best part of the movie is the animated short beforehand.

P.S. I hate to give publicity to other blog posts I find offensive or ridiculous, but this one about the movie being blatantly anti-Christian and the author "having to explain to his kids about Hinduism" because of the short beforehand almost made my eyes roll out of my head.

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