Monday, July 17, 2017

The Good Dinosaur

Year 9, Day 198 - 7/17/17 - Movie #2,692

BEFORE: And now I can reveal the real reason for doing this animated block for the last two weeks - this Pixar film "The Good Dinosaur" has been languishing at the bottom of my list for the last year or so, resisting all my attempts to link to it.  Whenever I found a movie like "Laurel Canyon", let's say, which would share an actress, there would be no second link, so it would essentially be dead-end to the chain.  Jeffrey Wright was also in "The Invasion" last year, that was another possible link, but since this is not a horror film, that didn't work out either.  Steve Zahn was in "Bandidas" last year, but you see what I mean - a film has to link on both sides to something to be part of a chain.

Finally, I remembered that John Ratzenberger does at least a cameo in every Pixar film - so by placing this one between two films with him in it, I can finally get it off of my list.  So Ratzenberger carries over from "Finding Dory", and he's my link to "Cars 3" tomorrow, also.

THE PLOT: In a world where dinosaurs and humans live side-by-side, an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend.

AFTER: Once again, it's difficult to tell if I'm suffering from "animated feature burnout", or if this film is as lackluster or as by-the-numbers as it seems.  I mean, most people are just not designed to watch THIS many animated films in a row - I guess maybe parents with children might have to watch them more frequently, but you can't take your kids to the movies EVERY day.  So I suppose as a grown adult, with no kids, I'm just not cut out for this relentless assault on my intelligence - movies aimed at 5 to 10-year old - day after day.

And if we're going to get mad at climate change deniers for ignoring what science tells them, then the flip side of that is that I should also get mad at this story, for depicting dinosaurs and (photo-)humans existing at the same time, when science tells us that it just didn't happen.  Cavemen did not ride dinosaurs, perhaps they encountered mammoths because those are also mammals, but dinosaurs?  No way.

I know, this film posits an "alternate history" where the asteroid that cause the extinction-level event that killed the dinosaurs missed the earth - but that divergence, in and of itself, wouldn't have brought about the age of mammals any sooner, and it certainly wouldn't have resulted in anything close to a human, simply because it's that very same extinction-level event that (eventually) brought about the changes in climate that made it possible for mammals to develop in the first place.  Right?  Are we clear?   This would be like if you were to go back in time and kill baby Hitler, and you manage to prevent World War II and the Holocaust, but then somehow in the 1950's Germany would also develop the first flying cars.  One change can lead to other changes, but not ones that it has NOTHING to do with.

So, how do the dinosaurs surviving longer bring about the accelerated development of Neanderthals, or Cro-Magnon man, or whatever is seen here?  Simple, it can't, and that's a huge story problem, if you ask me.  Of course, if you take this movie seriously, even as an alternate history, then you have to believe that dinosaurs could have evolved into language-speaking creatures, discovered agriculture and also raised herds of chicken- and cow-like animals, not to mention built the first simple structures like shacks and silos.  No, no, no!  This is just going to give children bad ideas about what dinosaurs were like - they had walnut-sized brains, for cripes sake!  They never, never would have learned how to farm or build things - most dinosaurs didn't even have arms!  (Except for T. rex, and we all know how small his arms were...)

In its own way, this is JUST as bad as those bible-thumpers that think that dinosaur fossils aren't real, or if they are then Adam and Eve must have named them in the Garden of Eden, and anyway dinos couldn't have lived millions of years ago because the Earth is only about 4,000 years old.  We don't listen to these people because they don't pay attention to the conclusions of scientists, and somehow believe that priests and ministers have better answers.

The IMDB trivia section for this film acknowledges that there were many production problems and story issues during the development of this film, which then resulted in the release date being moved forward several times, and layoffs were made at Pixar's Canada satellite studio as a result.  After one director was removed from the project in 2013 and more delays resulting from that, a new director was named in 2014 and the story was then re-worked once again.  I have to say, this is about what you get when there's so many problems going on behind the scenes, a very mediocre film.   Yes, even Pixar is capable of making one.

Also starring the voices of Jeffrey Wright (last heard in "Ernest & Celestine"), Frances McDormand (last seen in "Hail, Caesar!"), Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Anna Paquin (last seen in "Trick 'r Treat"), Sam Elliott (last seen in "Tombstone"), Steve Zahn (last seen in "Riding in Cars With Boys"), Marcus Scribner, A.J. Buckley, Peter Sohn, Mandy Freund, Steven Clay Hunter, Jack McGraw, Ryan Teeple, David Boat.

RATING: 4 out of 10 gopher holes

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