When I saw TGD this thanksgiving I walked in with neutral expectations to not be too dissapointed. When the movie started I was happy and when the movie was over I was kinda emotionless I didn't feel anything but sad, confused and slightly dissapointed. Still there were some parts that really hit me in a good way but there were also some parts that did not work with me. I'll start with the negative and end with the positive. Prepare for a long opinion page I really dig deep into my thoughts.
With an open mind I knew that it was going to have the same running time as Finding Nemo, but I expected the film follow the same pace without feeling too rushed. Sadly this is where I truly despised the film the pacing was horrendous for me and did not work, it felt very rushed without explaining many of the plot holes. This is a rather common thing today with animated films but I rather watch a movie that can tell a story without feeling like it just wants be done before you can get into it. Example when Arlo climbs up the mountain chasing Spot after finding himself in the wild, there is a quick shot of Arlo looking up at the mountain top and then suddenly there's a new shot with Arlo already on the top of the mountain seeing the view. Then right after it goes all episodic and feels more like it's an episode of a series where Arlo tries to survive. Then after Woodbush disappears it's already afternoon in the next shot. And if that's not enough at the end where there's a shot of Arlo reunited with his family there's a new shot with them already at the silo seconds after he just arrived. Ugh the pacing truly is my main problem and Finding Nemo pulled this off so well.
The side characters
Throughout the story we were introduced to Arlo's family, Woodbush, The T rexes, Pterodactyls, Raptors and the random cave family. Yet none of these gets enough screen time or development for us to really get to know them. Like Arlo's family we only saw them the first 10 minutes even less than that. Buck is the stereotypical older brother who likes to mess and taunt Arlo but he even becomes more unlikable when he kinda bullies him and that's all we are left with Buck. Libby? I can't really say anything about her she is so bland and only have 3 lines. Momma was an interesting character but yet her too have way to little screen time for me to care about her. Poppa was likable but I quickly lost my faith in him when he wanted Arlo to hurt Spot. Plus I found it to come out of nowhere for him to be so furious at Arlo when he released Spot. He became rather antagonistic and blamed Arlo for not facing his fear while that had nothing to do with Arlo being afraid he only didn't wanna hurt Spot. Then when he yelled at Arlo several times while Arlo was scared and hurt I just wanted to slap him cause of his behavior but luckily he realized he acted awful and I kind of regained my faith in him after that, but still was it really necessary to suddenly transform him into a antagonist because Arlo didn't kill Spot. Yet still I did like Poppa cause he reminded me of my father who could be strict but was always understanding and laid back when I was at Arlo's age. Woodbush was hysterical but he must have broken the record after Libby to have the shortest screen time in this film he appeared for like only 2 minutes and then magically gone from the story to never return. That's not enough I wanted to see more of this guy. Right now Woodbush's like "This is Disney he allows me to play a big part in the merchandise for this film tricking people to believe I have big role. This is Pixar he prevents me from having more screen time than 2 minutes". The T rexes were interesting and likable but I had way to little time to get to know them which is really sad cause I was starting to really like Butch after his message about fear.The Pterodactyls were interesting antagonists that felt intimidating and creepy all the way until the the very climax when they started to act rather goofy and were easily defeated by Arlo. The Raptors were looking really cartoony and I didn't really like them that much cause they only played the role as rustlers and then they were gone from the story. I guess my main problem with the side characters were that they had no real character development thanks to having very short screen time and this really ruined the humor for the film.
So Im ok with Spot being reunited with a cave family who would take care of him as long as we get so him reunited with Arlo again at the very end of the film like an epilogue. But no we don't get to see the 2 of them reunited in the end and this really made me sad. after their depressing goodbye we quickly go back to the farm and Arlo's reunited with his family, and seconds after that it's all about Arlo earning his mark. So he puts his mark on the silo and then credits roll the movie is over, WHAT NO! THAT CAN'T BE IT, REALLY! You have got to be kidding me Inside Out had a much more uplifting ending than this. It felt like they just wanted the movie to end so they didn't haft to tell more stories and Im not ok with that. This is not a happy ending now I never get to see the two of them reunited again. I desire to have a longer ending of this film.
Yes the story is simple and we have see it before I agree and I haft to even more agree that the whole "Make your mark" became old very fast. The overall film is filled with clichés and plot holes and you can see the struggling of the story that Pixar tried to break but even after re writing the entire movie they couldn't fix the plot holes. I'll keep it short that the writing feels rather awkward at certain times and the execution feels mostly rushed and unfinished. Saying that it's just a kids film is not an excuse for bad writing remember you have all been kids yourself, and when I grew up with Disney's Lion King, Tarzan and Mulan those movies were written to answer the plot holes so that the movies never felt rushed.
Message of fear
I really liked how the film introduced Arlo to the world as a rather insecure and scared protagonist but for some reason Arlo's vision kinda came up as pretty cheap to me for some reason. I don't know why but I guess I just wanted him struggle more. For some reason this made me feel a little meh.
Now for the stuff I liked
Arlo & Spot
Arlo and Spot were so fantastic characters and so memorable, let me start with Spot. I loved Spot's design as a wild little cave boy with brown hair and blue green eyes he reminded me a little of baby Tarzan. I like how after Arlo found himself in the wild Spot kinda grew on Arlo and helped him out. Spot showed so much much emotions with only grunts and the use of body language and he really made the film with his dog like behavior. It was so refreshing to have a protagonist who was little to the world and had a hard time finding his place. When people say that Arlo is a coward cause he has fears of the world I just don't understand that, there's so many people in this world who come out smaller than others and for them it's really hard to fit in, I know that myself. I like to believe that Arlo is late bloomed compared to his siblings. He still acts more mature than Buck and takes responsibility even though he is scared. To me Arlo was a character I rooted for and I love that Pixar introduced us to a new kind of protagonist.
The orphans scene
OH MY GOSH this entire scene was so beautiful. So calm, so touching and filled with so many emotions. The scene was so well executed in it's own speed and it builded up with the beautiful score "Orphans". I know that Peter Sohn based this scene on his relation with his mother on how they connected to Dumbo. I was sitting in the cinema and I really cried with real tears. The scene itself was a masterpiece with so many feels and I think it is my favourite scene in the film.
I loved how this film began with first showing how the asteroid missed and then the first shots on the landscapes to when we come to Arlo's birth. The opening was so uplifting filled with so much cuteness and joy. I think Pixar really nailed the opening for this film.
I absolutely love when soundtracks can bring emotions, beauty and be uplifting. The Good Dinosaur nailed this with most of it's scores some the scores comes off as masterpieces like Orphans, Goodbye Spot, Fireflies, Sky sharks and Run with the herd. I can listen to Orphans without getting tired of repeat cause of how much emotion it brings. Run with the herd is very uplifting if you have had an awful day, the only complaint I may have about Run with the herd is the use of saxophone. Without the soundtrack for this film it wouldn't had affected me in the same way.
Everyone have said it and Im saying it too the water, the trees, the environment looks like real life capture on camera you seriously can't believe that it's all animated. The character designs comes off as very cartoony but mostly they are harmless, I didn't really have any trouble with the characters. The only complaint I have for the animation is that Momma, Libby, Buck and the raptors looked way to cartoony for my taste.
I didn't take scenes too serious so I laughed out loud when Arlo & Spot were tripping.