Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Good Dinosaur Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
From the innovative minds of Disney•Pixar comes a hilariously heartwarming adventure about the power of confronting and overcoming your fears and discovering who you are meant to be. The Good Dinosaur asks the question: What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely, and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? In this epic journey into the world of dinosaurs, an apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend. While traveling through a harsh and mysterious landscape, Arlo learns the power of confronting his fears and discovers what he is truly capable of. The perfect adventure for the whole family stampedes home on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere February 23.
Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Life on Earth was not wiped out by an asteroid strike, leaving the planet’s creatures free to evolve and co-exist. Millions of years later we meet a family of dinosaurs. The dinosaurs have learned to work their land and create basic structures. They also talk. 

Three eggs hatch and Libby, Buck and Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa) are born. Arlo is much smaller than his siblings. He wants nothing more than to make his mark on the world but he is not strong enough. Arlo is easily frightened and wants to prove that he is not a coward. Food has been disappearing from the family’s silo and Arlo’s father (voiced by Jeffrey Wright) wants him to protect what’s theirs. He is directed to kill the wilderness critter that has been stealing their food. That creature is a human child with a dirty, feral appearance. Disaster strikes the family and Arlo ends up alone. He desperately wants to get back to his family and finds himself with an unlikely traveling companion. The child who had been stealing food, known as Spot, is also on his own.

The Good Dinosaur is another example of Pixar bringing a lot of heart to a film that translates into a very emotional journey. This film has less dialogue than most, but the emotional content is not lacking. Don’t be surprised if the more sensitive young ones in your life shed a few tears as they fear for Arlo and his family. I don’t expect Arlo to become a household name like Toy Story’s Woody or Buzz. I do expect to see repeat viewings of the film in my home. Because of the emotional rollercoaster, my seven year old won’t request this film daily (as he does with all films containing minions). This is however, a film that Pixar fans of all ages should enjoy.
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Good Dinosaur is presented on Blu-ray with exceptional color and clarity. Everything you see in the animated environment is detailed and realistic including water, dinosaur skin and the varied foliage. Spot’s dirty skin and hair are as authentic as the rocks and mountains he travels over. When Arlo first realizes he can’t see his home, the viewer is treated to wide aerial shots that could easily be directly from a photograph.
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Good Dinosaur features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack. As you would hope, the dinosaurs step with appropriate weight. The strange noises that scare Arlo in the night and chilling and directionless. Environmental ambiance helps sell the film which is often limited in dialogue. The music conveys appropriate emotion and becomes a character of its own. For those that like the sounds of water, rain and flowing water will impress.
Extras (4 out of 5 stars)
As you can expect, the Blu-ray contains a unique list of features that gives insight into the filmmaking team and the world of Pixar. The supplemental features give special insight to real life adventures that made their way into the film. The cattle drive, in particular, takes on more meaning when you see the family they are modeled after. The featurette’s are short but varied and make a nice complement to the film. The Blu-ray contains the following extras in high definition:
  • Sanjay's Super Team (7:07): An unexpectedly touching short film about a child with a big imagination and his father.
  • True Lies About Dinosaurs (1:56): A look at the ways the film stretches the truth and all the elements we don’t know about dinosaurs. Pixar admits that they have made up many of their “facts”.
  • Recyclosaurus (6:19): Watch Pixar employees compete (and break the rules) in creative competitions and create dinosaurs out of recycled materials.
  • The Filmmakers' Journey (7:54): The first time director shares his fears and the filmmaking team shares how it came together. 
  • Every Part of the Dinosaur (6:08): A featurette focused on the dinosaur. Without real dinosaurs to model from, they looked at other animals. With little dialogue, physicality and emotion becomes very important.
  • Following the T-Rex Trail (6:58): The crew travels to a real cattle ranch to herd cattle and get real life experience they could bring to the film.
  • Deleted Scenes: The Attack (2:29), Building the Silo (4:30), and Waiting for Poppa (3:05) with director introduction.
  • Audio Commentary: Director Peter Sohn and a handful of people from the filmmaking team provide feature length audio commentary. Although this commentary isn’t as relaxed as others you may have heard it does provide a good bit of information about how the film came to be. 
  • Dino Bites (4:15): Fun extra moments with the films characters.
  • Hide and Seek (0:59): Spot and Arlo play hide and seek. 
  • Trailers: Moment: North American Trailer 2, Courage: Russian Trailer and Different: German Trailer
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
The Good Dinosaur may not be what you’d expect. The fact that the dinosaurs weren’t annihilated by an asteroid has less to do with the film than it seemed from the previews. It simply places man and dinosaur in the same time. Having recently seen talking Polar Bears in Norm of the North, the world of The Good Dinosaur seems less contrived. It isn’t odd that the dinosaurs are speaking, or that they are members of close and loving families. The film does contain some serious tragedies and that won’t be easy to watch for all viewers. My son is the type to want to skip over sad parts, asking why “kid movies” always make you feel sad. This film will definitely appeal to the elementary school crowd while not making parents feel like they have wasted hours of their lives. The special features are unique and show as much heart as the film does. I highly recommend adding The Good Dinosaur to your Blu-ray collection and suggest adding this to the Easter baskets of the young ones in your life.

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