Most are praising the visuals, while others are calling the plot safe. I'm seeing it either way to make my own opinion. [smile] 

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Pixar Post - T.J.
Very interesting! Read through some of those and the things that stand out are that people enjoy the visuals (as expected), but that the story seems basic for the Studio's past. Obviously, we'll formulate our own opinions soon enough, but that's interesting to read. I should also note to read any of the reviews with caution...the least spoiler-y are the Variety review and The Wrap's review...The Hollywood Reporter review reveals the most.

From ScreenDaily (link above) - an interesting comment about the score. Credit, too, goes to a nervy score by Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna, which mixes strains of country, Native American music and more traditional orchestral soundtrack. The juxtaposition might seem odd on occasion, but like the film in general, it’s proof that Pixar refuses to go on autopilot, pushing its artists into new, and sometimes quite rewarding, terrain.

Also, regarding the score (from Variety's review) certain as the recurrence of Mychael and Jeff Danna’s often distractingly Tolkien-esque score.

I'm so intrigued to hear this score - very interesting feedback. We knew Danna's vibe is a little more "out there" and it seems like he'll definitely continue to explore the outer limits of composition.

Also...just a quick video highlighting the Paris premiere of the movie from the Disney France YouTube page which was released today.

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andreas the pixar maniac
oh god I hope the movie is way better than they say it is because if the critics are right and this is a medicore movie then... I think I'm going to cry myself to sleep for the rest of my life[Crying2_zpscd88994b]
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Oh wow this movie really snuck up on me. 

This will be entertaining.


I wonder, if this ends up getting mediocre reviews, if it'll affect Pixar's mindset. "Well guys, we pushed back a movie roughly a year to improve on it and we obviously failed, so screw this!"
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Its score on Metacritic has debuted at a 76 based on 4 reviews, which is quite a bit below Inside Out's debut score of 89, so when the rest of the reviews come in I'm a bit scared that TGD will have its score settle anywhere between 71 and 81. Better than Brave and MU, and its closest comparison would be Monsters Inc, but it's not hitting the high notes of Inside Out, WALL-E, or Ratatouille.

Hopefully the Rotten Tomatoes score is better when that comes out later.
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mmm.... Sure, the debut of the reviews aren´t as great as we are used to with Pixar. But they are still good. I kind of want to get out of the mind set of. ¨It´s Pixar it has to be amazing´, because if its not amazing, and just great. I would still be dissapointed. Let´s just remember that years of very hard work were put into this film and I´m going to appreciate whatever I see this next weekend.
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I personally don't mind if the story is simple. If anything, I think it'll make the film better if the story is kind of basic and just central on developing the bond between Arlo and Spot, and their journey through the land. It also reminds me of classic Disney movies like Bambi, Pinocchio, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, which all have relatively simple but emotionally effective stories.
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"The story isn't as complex or inventive as Inside Out's" is a criticism I've never understood. Some movie types just don't need a complicated, unpredictable plot, and we have many examples of wild adventure films with way too much plot (much of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, for instance). But the Good Dinosaur is a fundamentally different type of movie from Inside Out, so I don't know if the comparisons between the two are valid. 

Inside Out.. if it didn't have the plot type that it did, it would have sunk. I think the Good Dinosaur works very well with the simpler story that it has (amusingly, both movies have the same screenwriter). But of course, that does lend it to criticisms like "fantastic visuals try to make up for a predictable story." It's very much a distillation/archetype type of movie. It borrows liberally from classics to make a more modern classic. Now, Bambi, Dumbo, the Black Stallion, and the Lion King are all movies that TGD is similar to, and you could easily say that they were original when they were doing what they were doing**, but everyone borrows or is inspired by something else. Whether something is 'original' or not comes down to whether you recognize where the inspiration came from. I'll note there wasn't anything original in the Lion King, for instance, but American audiences are far more familiar with TLK vs TGD than they are about Kimba the White Lion vs TLK.

Overall, though, it's mostly Pixar being judged against its past achievements, and YMMV as to whether it's fair to do that rather than look at the movie for its own merits.

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Yes, I predicted that critics would be harder on TGD because of how good Inside Out was. They're still coming out of that Pixar High. But just because the critics dislike it doesn't mean everyone should be worried--I still found a lot of personal enjoyment in Monsters University and Tomorrowland, for instance, and they struck an emotional string for me even though critics didn't really like them. But anyway, if it is a sinker it'll probably be on par with the average disney movie.
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Movie Bear
So far, there have been just 4 or 5 published reviews for TGD.  They are mostly positive and complimentary, but the seemingly minor(?) common criticisms refer to unremarkable and predictable storytelling which doesn't quite live up to the promise of the spectacular and groundbreaking visuals. Or, as one or two of them state, the story doesn't resonate as much as Inside Out.  I absolutely loved Inside Out, but this comparison by critics worries me a little bit, as I respond more to a solid, emotionally stirring story over any other movie characteristic.
I wonder that the comparison with Inside Out, only because it's the most recent Pixar film, may be totally unfair.  IO and TGD are completely different movies.  While IO deals with complex themes and at least 3 different, but concurrent story contexts which all work so well together, TGD is a simpler "boy and his dog finding their way back home amidst dangers and adventures" story.  So comparing the two just doesn't feel valid.  I'll have to wait until next week to see, but I REALLY, REALLY hope that TGD lives up to the promise I've seen in the trailers and filmmaker interviews for a stirring and emotional story and that it hasn't been 'aged down' too far.

So my question / challenge is: Has anyone who's actually seen the movie already want to step up in the forum here and defend it in a non-spoilery way against the criticisms thus far?
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Movie Bear wrote:
So my question / challenge is: Has anyone who's actually seen the movie already want to step up in the forum here and defend it in a non-spoilery way against the criticisms thus far?

I've been staying anonymous and posting about how much I've liked the clips posted from the movie, but I can be more direct say that I've seen the movie, and I'm good at not posting spoilers. To my annoyance, many people on IMDB and Variety comments and such have spoiled many things about The Good Dinosaur, including the ending, but I try to limit my "spoilers" to what has already been released through the trailers.

First, I loved the movie. I'm really trying not to overhype the movie, since there are few film-going experiences worse than arriving with unrealistic expectations thinking it's the "best thing ever!1!!!" and of course, having it not reach the heights that you thought it would. Also, I've noticed it's kindof "cool" in the last few years to say that Pixar has "lost it" and bash their recent offerings. So I adore the movie, but acknowledge some flaws that did not kill my enjoyment of it. But your mileage will certainly vary.

I think The Good Dinosaur is a pure emotion ride. Naturally, Inside Out is a bit more intellectual, even though it's the one about emotions. Go figure. As an example, TGD probably has less dialogue than any other Pixar movie except for, maybe(?), Wall-E. As such it thrives on experience -- you experiencing a character's feelings through color, light, and expression. There are feels. Many feels. Upon a second viewing, I counted three times when tears were running down my cheeks. That doesn't happen often, but it does happen when a movie manages to touch something emotionally primal inside of me... Miyazaki's movies, Millenium Actress, some older/classic Disney movies (the ones from the 40s and the 80s/90s), and, of course, Up and Inside Out, can do that kind of thing to me. The first time this happens is halfway through the movie, not towards the beginning, for those anticipating That Event they know is coming.

The phrase "turn off your brain" has very negative connotations for movie quality, so I don't want to use it here. That said, the plot is simple enough to follow along easily enough while absorbing the overwhelming emotion from various sources. The emotion comes from the sheer beauty presented in the world, Mychael Danna's truly-inspired score, and an expression of pure friendship and love between Spot and Arlo.

Is the movie predictable? Sure. Though I'll admit I did feel like there would be a different outcome at the end, though that feeling evaporated about 2/3 of the way through and the movie was fairly obviously leading you towards one conclusion. Boy, it's hard to to describe these things without spoilers. But think of it this way: Was anyone surprised by anything in the Lion King? Did anyone seriously doubt that anyone other than Luke Skywalker would blow up the Death Star in Star Wars? Did you think that Ripley wasn't going after Newt.. or that she wouldn't find her? Sometimes it's not necessary for a good movie to keep you guessing. Inside Out intellectually challenged you, had you think a little different about emotions after leaving the theater, and that's a great thing! The Good Dinosaur's aims aren't as lofty or cerebral. It's an experience that works more on an emotional level. I would say that Pixar almost never tries to tell a story like this -- journey, adventure, survival. Maybe A Bug's Life and Finding Nemo come close.

So some have compared it to the Lion King, the producers mentioned the Black Stallion as an inspiration. Both are favorites of mine. The movie has a similar "feel" to the Lion King (while fortunately eschewing much of the TLK's very-kid-friendly comic relief), with its genuine emotion, natural beauty, gorgeous score, and its use of "animation haikus." I'm not sure that's a phrase in general use, but I heard a Youtube commentator mention that an animation haiku is a shot, maybe five seconds long, that is crazy expensive/hard to animate, but illustrates a small part of nature. I'm still not describing it well, but think of the opening shot of the Good Dinosaur Trailer #1. Storm clouds in the sky, water on the leaves. I've seen a number of reaction videos, and everyone reacts the same: "whoa. Wait, is that real? Those leaves were gorgeous." The movie is full of longer shots like this, placed appropriately to not get in the way of the story. They really establish the world that Arlo is in. It feels very real, very vivid, and very dangerous. The trailers give you just a taste of this, and the promos focus entirely on character/dialogue moments. It looks amazing, possibly Best Cinematography amazing (I'll admit that for an animated movie to ever be considered is a real longshot).

There are a few flaws and those have to do with what dialogue exists. The very opening act is shmaltzy and precious, and has some dialogue that is a little too "on the nose" and obvious about the theme of the movie. If you took a shot every time someone wanted Arlo to "get through his fear," you wouldn't have alcohol poisoning, but you might be a bit blitzed.

So if you're looking for a movie like Inside Out, you're going to be disappointed. If you're open to something different from what Pixar's ever done, if passion and beauty move you, then it might really touch you. Myself, I have not been as obsessed with an animated movie since The Lion King (when I was young enough to watch favorite movies over and over and over), but my tastes can be funny. I'm the guy who thinks Tron 2 and Oblivion are both underrated. I'd rate the Good Dinosaur above both, though.

PS. I liked it better on the second viewing, too, but even with films I end up really loving, it takes more than one viewing for me to really appreciate it.

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Movie Bear
Thanks Kyr, for the in depth review of TGD, especially for re-emphasizing that it is indeed a simpler story than Inside Out. I suspected the reviewers were unfairly looking for something that this movie never promised.  Thanks also for not giving away any spoilers in your assessment.  Your even-handed insight into the movie a has re-energized me and I'm once again looking forward excitedly to seeing the movie next week and joining in the discussion to follow.
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Pixar Post - T.J.
FANTASTIC Kyr, you dodged giving away spoilers while still getting points across in the movie. Loved it! Very well stated and respectful of the moments you didn't think were necessarily the best either. Now THAT'S a great spoiler-free review!
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The Good Dinosaur opened with an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes and 40 reviews. Not bad at all!!
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True, but after reading a few website reviews I realized that they really had a low opinion of the film. One even gave than a 2/5 star rating! [frown]

I'm really sad to hear that, but hopefully they're wrong. :\
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