So as I had the pleasure of seeing them both, I decided to include them both in a “Double Review” – mostly because I don’t have much BAD stuff to say about them and also because this will be a mostly spoiler free review (may have the odd one here and there), so it’s a bit shorter than the other ones I’ve done. Reason I’m not going to talk about the story much is because I think these films deserve your attention – and like me, I found that not knowing what the story was going into this film helped me enjoy it a lot more.
So without further ado, here is my review of Finding Dory and The Good Dinosaur.
It actually SORTA runs alongside the first film in a way. At least at first. Here we see Dory with her family as a child, suffering from short term memory loss on a constant basis. Without knowing why, she becomes separated from her family as a child and then spends the next few years wandering the ocean. And that’s when she meets Marlin and the events of Finding Nemo begin.
Fast forward to a year later, Dory now remembers her family and she has to travel back to the Jewel of Moro Bay to find them, accompanied by Marlin and Nemo. Along the way they meet other characters, Hank the octopus, Destiny the whale shark and Bailey the beluga whale.
For the sake of spoilers, that’s all I want to say for the moment. Whilst the story does take a while to get going, when it does it has plenty to keep you entertained. I felt so sorry for poor Dory. Watching this film gave me a greater appreciation of people that live with Alzheimer’s and Dementia and what they must go through every day. And that’s what makes Dory’s struggle so tough – the obstacles that she comes across could be easily avoided – but it’s because she struggles to remember anything past a few minutes (if she’s lucky) that makes this so gut-wrenching to watch at times.
The voice cast is spot on as always – Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks return to voice Dory and Marlin respectably and their dynamics haven’t changed one bit. Nemo is also here in an arguably bigger role than in the first film. He’s the glue that holds Marlin and Dory together and acts as a conscience for his dad when things get rough. The new characters introduced are really well done. Hank I guess is what you call the “Selfish guy with the heart of gold” and his journey with Dory is a real eye-opener for him. Destiny and Bailey are equally as good supporting characters – but I also think they are great metaphors for overcoming obstacles. You’ll see why when you go to see it. And yes, I did cry this film – quite a bit.
Special mention goes to the sea lions Luke and Rudder – played by former The Wire actors Idris Alba and Dominic West. They’re only on for a few moments but they made me chuckle.
Finding Dory is a great film about overcoming obstacles and not letting things get you down. What could have been a disaster turns out to be one of Pixar’s most thoughtful and heart-warming films released in later years. Whether it’s better than Finding Nemo or not isn’t really the point – it has a strong message of hope that will resonate with its audience.
The story is set around the idea that the asteroid that supposedly wiped out the dinosaurs never happened and dinosaurs went on to become the main species on the planet – learning to speak and work as humans do (it’s Pixar, go with it). Arlo is the youngest of an Apatosaurus family of farmers – but he just can’t seem to get anything right, mainly due to his overwhelming cowardice. After a chance encounter with a caveman boy and a tragedy that separates him from his family, he must now find his way home. Naming the boy Spot, the two become very close friends.
A pretty basic story and one that we’ve seen many times before. But the strength in The Good Dinosaur is taking this story and still making it enjoyable. Arlo and Spot make such a great team that you grow to love them very quickly.
One thing I want to say before I carry on is that the backgrounds in this film look amazing! Some of the best special effects I’ve seen in a Pixar film! There were times when I thought they actually WERE real backgrounds they were that amazing. Some reviewers have stated that the cartoonish look of the other characters kind makes them seem out of place, but I didn’t mind too much about that. Mostly because I was too busy crying.
Yep! Time to talk about the one thing that Pixar is almost guaranteed to give me – the feels! Honestly, the feels in this film were on par with Up, The Lion King and even The Land Before Time in places. There was one particular scene that I saw coming a mile away – but I didn’t WANT it to happen, so that made it even more painful. Unlike a lot of Pixar films, this one has less humour and more drama compared to say Inside Out and Toy Story, but that wasn’t really an issue for me. The best scenes I think here is where there is no dialogue and Arlo and Spot just use body language and movement to put across their thoughts. This is particularly powerful in the final scene where… well, let’s just say that, if you’re like me, you might need a hug afterwards.
I guess the only thing I COULD complain about was the “unnecessary” background characters. Late into the film they try to introduce an “antagonist” character – but I felt he really wasn’t needed too much. Plus he appeared too late to really make much impact on the plot. He wasn’t bad by any means, just unnecessary.
The Good Dinosaur I think is possibly Pixar’s most underrated film. It has a simple plot, but tons of heart. It’s a bit more serious in tone, and strong on feels, but at the end you will feel like you’ve watched a wonderful story – one that will stick in your mind for a long time to come.
Both of these films are just fantastic and I strongly recommend you check them out. As of the time of this blog, Finding Dory is still in a few cinemas and The Good Dinosaur is out on DVD. Make sure you watch them both.
Finding Nemo and The Good Dinosaur both get 5 out of 5 stars from me!