The Good Dinosaur

I saw this the day after Thanksgiving, and I’m sorry to say that I didn’t care that much more for it. Although I found the plot threadbare and derivative like other critics, what bugged me the most were the design and world-building elements.

The backdrops were indeed gorgeously rendered, which made the dinosaur characters’ lazy and cartoonish designs appear all the more jarring. But the subarctic choice of environment made its ripping influences off Ice Age even more obvious and didn’t really fit the particular dinosaur species they chose. It’s true that there were dinosaurs living in temperate climates near the poles during the Mesozoic, but all the stock species shown in the film were better adapted to tropical or subtropical conditions that were much more widespread back then. If you’re going to drop Apatosaurus or Tyrannosaurus rex in the modern New World, somewhere in Central or South America, or maybe the southeastern United States (e.g. Florida or Louisiana) would suit them better than chilly Wyoming or Montana.

I did like the idea of tyrannosaurs herding livestock; they were one of the few elements in the movie I enjoyed. On the other hand, considering all the evergreen foliage surrounding them, I thought the sauropods growing maize for the winter was superfluous (and what use would herbivores have for chickens anyway)? As for Spot, not only was he awfully European-looking for a story set in ancient North America (despite his Native American flute leitmotif), but the whole “non-verbal Cro-Magnon” trope (as well as the “something that isn’t a dog acts like a dog” joke) is getting kinda old.

It’s not the worst animated movie I’ve ever seen, but it was underwhelming. The opening short with the Hindu superheroes showed more imagination.

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