Adventure Animation

'The Good Dinosaur' Blu-ray Review: Prehistoric fun for the whole family

February 23, 2016Ben MK

What if the dinosaurs hadn't been wiped out by an asteroid impact 65 million years ago? That's the basic premise behind Disney/Pixar's latest computer-animated crowd-pleaser, The Good Dinosaur, a film that takes place millions of years after the catastrophe-that-never-was, positing a world where dinosaurs and early humans coexist.

It's a world where Apatosaurs sow crops like farmers and T-Rexes herd bison like cowboys. More importantly, however, it's where we find our pair of prehistoric protagonists, a cowardly young Apatosaurus named Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) and a feral caveboy named Spot (Jack Bright). Arlo and Spot start off as adversaries, but when tragedy strikes, separating Arlo from his family and stranding him in the middle of the wilderness, he finds a surprising new ally in Spot, who takes it upon himself to become Arlo's protector. Together, the unlikely duo set off to find their way back to Arlo's home in the valley below Claw Tooth Mountain, encountering all sorts of colorful characters along the way.

While some of those characters would like nothing better than to have a critter like Spot for lunch, others are more than happy to help. Ether way, the assortment of characters perfectly illustrates how director Pete Sohn and screenwriter Meg LeFauve balance thrills, moments of sincere emotion, and laugh-out-loud humor. And like other Pixar films, the movie looks gorgeous doing it, with a story set against the backdrop of prehistoric North America, comprised of stunningly vast vistas and corner-to-corner photorealism. At the film's core, though, what it all boils down is the relationship between Arlo and Spot, and how they come to rely on one another not just for survival, but also for friendship.

Yes, it's a motif that's been revisited time and time again by the filmmakers at Pixar, from 1995's Toy Story to 2009's Up. But while you could argue that The Good Dinosaur is playing it safe when it comes to its character archetypes and its emotional trajectory, you can't say that it doesn't deliver well on its promise of a rousing, family-friendly adventure with a heartwarming gold center. It just goes to show that not everything Pixar does has to be a creative risk in order for it to be a success. Because for all that it aspires to be, The Good Dinosaur is pretty great.

Being a Pixar movie, The Good Dinosaur arrives with sky-high expectations for its technical presentation. And I'm happy to report, this Blu-ray does not disappoint. Colors are beyond vibrant, black levels and contrast are rock-solid, and there's a jaw-dropping amount of fine detail present in this razor-sharp 1080p image. That last remark hold particularly true of the environments, which are rendered so realistically that they could easily pass for real-life footage. As for the primary 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, it's just as stellar as the picture quality. Not only are dialogue and music perfectly balanced, viewers will be awed by the convincing soundscape, which is filled with effects like swift-moving river currents, crackles of thunder and lightning, fierce prehistoric roars and the flapping of giant leathery wings.

Available from Disney as both a 2-disc 2D Blu-ray and a 3-disc 3D combo pack, The Good Dinosaur includes an iTunes digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Sanjay's Super Team (7:07) - The short film that preceded the movie in theaters.
  • True Lies about Dinosaurs (1:56) - A piece about the fiction of the movie's dinosaurs, as well as some facts about the prehistoric creatures.
  • Recyclosaurus (6:19) - A segment about the creative competition at Pixar that had entrants building dinosaurs out of nothing but recycled and donated materials.
  • The Filmmakers' Journey (7:54) - A making-of featurette covering the filmmakers' research, director Pete Sohn's leadership and the collaboration and camaraderie among the crew.
  • Every Part of the Dinosaur (6:08) - A featurette that's all about the movie's character animation, particularly the animation for Arlo and Spot.
  • Following the T-Rex Trail (6:58) - A piece about the filmmakers' experience herding cattle at the farm of Joe and Joyce McKay, whose family served as the inspiration for the T-Rex wranglers in the film.
  • Deleted Scenes (10:41) - Three scenes ("The Attack," "Building the Silo" and "Waiting for Poppa"), shown in rough storyboard form and available with introductions by director Pete Sohn.
  • Commentary - Director Pete Sohn, Story Supervisor Kelsey Mann, Animation Supervisor Michael Venturini, Director of Photography Sharon Calahan and Supervising Technical Director Sanjay Bakshi talk about their roles on the film, the concept for the movie, its inspirations, the lighting and the visuals, the characters and the animation, the themes, the story's development and more.
  • Dino Bites (4:15) - A collection of short scenes that have the characters horsing around and having fun.
  • Hide and Seek (0:59) - A promotional short in which Spot and Arlo engage in a game of hide and seek.
  • Trailers (6:58) - Three trailers ("Moment - North American Trailer 2," "Courage - Russian Trailer" and "Different - German Trailer").

The Good Dinosaur is available from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment as of February 23rd, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, English DTS-HD High Resolution 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 33 mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on November 25th, 2015.

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