Pixar goes prehistoric with alt- history animation The Good Dinosaur
popping the Question
Over the last 20 years Pixar has got an awful lot of mileage from two words: “what if ?” What if toys came to life when you weren’t around? What if monsters were real? What if rats weren’t super- gross? Their next toon, The Good Dinosaur, asks a “what if ?” 65 million years in the making: what if the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs sailed clean past our planet?
the parent trap
Enter Arlo, a friendly Apatosaurus voiced by young Raymond Ochoa. Arlo is the littlest dino in a happy family of herbivore farmers, which in classic Bambi fashion means his Momma ( Frances McDormand) and/ or Poppa ( Jeffrey Wright) aren’t long for the world. Clumsy old Arlo follows up this family tragedy by taking a tumble into some nearby rapids, where he wipes out and washes up hundreds of miles away from home. Cue an arduous journey back to the Clawed- Tooth Mountains, upon which all manner of life lessons are waiting to be learned.
But Arlo isn’t alone on his trek. Shortly after setting off he bumps into Spot – a six- year- old cave boy who’s more tail- chasing canine than cave- painting Homo sapien. Arlo and dinosaur kind have mastered the power of speech, but Spot has yet to progress beyond growls and whimpers. In the words of John Lasseter, it’s a “boy and dog story, but the roles are reversed.” Expect reluctant proximity, followed by cautious friendship, followed by the kind of bond even a flesh- hungry T- Rex couldn’t break.
the Voyage home
Naturally Spot isn’t the only new face Arlo encounters on his journey. Pixar has created a menagerie of larger than life creatures including a family of friendly T- Rexes, vulture- like Pterodactyls, a Triceratops who acts as a spiritual guide for Arlo, and the blood- thirsty jerks of the dinosaur kingdom – Velociraptors. The Raptors will have feather- based haircuts modelled on certain footballers, to increase the scientific accuracy, and decrease reports of night terrors.
cry me a river
If 2015’ s other Pixar flick, Inside Out, has proven anything it’s that: a) the animation supremos are back on their A- game; and b) they haven’t lost their touch when it comes to causing leaky eyes. With Arlo and Spot estranged from their families The Good Dinosaur is loaded with more emotional landmines than a Nicholas Sparks novel.
the grass is greener
Story may come first, but Pixar aren’t ones to slack off when it comes to treating your peepers. The Good Dinosaur is taking Pixar’s already impressive tech one step further with some astonishingly detailed foliage. In fact, we’d say it’s the best- looking foliage you’ll see without popping down to your local park and sticking your head in a bush. The hyper- realistic environments stand in contrast to the more cartoony appearance of Arlo, Spot and the film’s dinos.
Behind the mic
It hasn’t been plain sailing, however. Up co- director Bob Peterson departed in 2013, citing “story problems” and was replaced by Peter Sohn. The entire original voice cast was also recently replaced ( minus Frances McDormand, who survived the extinction event). Usually this would set alarm bells ringing, but in Pixar we trust.
When’s i t out?
The Good Dinosaur opens on 27 November 2015.
Go on, eat him! Nah, we’re only kidding.
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Humans and dinosaurs: happy together.