Pixar goes pre­his­toric with alt- history an­i­ma­tion The Good Di­nosaur

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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.

Juras­sic Bark

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.

spoiler warn­ing!

Get sci- fi news, re­views and fea­tures at games­radar. com/ sfx

Hu­mans and di­nosaurs: happy to­gether.

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