The Good Dinosaur Blu-ray Review: An Alternative Earth Offers a Universal Lesson

"Fear is the mind-killer." - The Litany Against Fear from Frank Herbert's "Dune"
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Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur presents an alternative history where the asteroid that led to mass extinction on Earth 66 million years ago missed the planet.  The story picks up millions of years later with young Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) the Apatosaurus going on a journey, both external and internal, the latter being more important.

Arlo lives on his parents' farm and is scared of the world around him, including their chickens.  In an effort to join the rest of the family as a responsible contributor, his father Henry (Jeffrey Wright) gives him the task of catching and killing the creature that has been raiding the family's food silo.  The culprit is a human boy Arlo later names Spot.  Fearful, Arlo lets the human out of the trap and allows him to escape to his father's dismay.  Chasing after Spot, Arlo ends up lost far from home.  To get home, Arlo must overcome his fright and work with Spot, who has very good survival skills, even though they don’t speak same language. 

The Good Dinosaur offers a fun family adventure that skewers slightly younger than some of Pixar's other works at times, but the story of Arlo being challenged to live a braver, less fearful life has a wide appeal.  There's a good bit of humor, especially a funny scene where Arlo and Spot get wasted eating fermented fruit, but also some intense scenes of action with dangerous flash floods and creatures fighting.

I may make comment this every time, but with each new release, it seems like the video quality noticeably improves.  The Blu-ray was given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of an aspect ratio: 2.39:1 and it looks exquisite.  As the film opens, the foliage on the dinosaur farm appears photo realistic.  Colors shine in bold, vibrant hues, and Blacks are richly inky.  The texture detail, like the reptile scales, stands out. 

The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 helps create an immersive experience with the sounds and score enveloping the viewer, particularly the former as effects moved about the soundfield.  The subwoofer helped punctuate the rumble of running dinosaurs and thunderclouds.  The dialogue was always clear, the elements were mixed together well, and the dynamic range was wide.

The Commentary features director Peter Sohn; story supervisor Kelsey Mann; animation supervisor Mike Venturini; director of photography, lighting Sharon Calahan; and supervising technical director Sanjay Bakshi discussing the creation of the film.  Bakshi's short that accompanied the film in theaters, the Oscar-nominated Sanjay's Super Team (HD, 7 min) is included.

The other Bonus Extras, all of which are in HD, offer a mix of mostly interesting but relatively short featurettes.  "True Lies About Dinosaurs" (2 min) is a very brief reveal of the blending of facts to tell this story.  "Recyclosaurus" (6 min) is a Pixar employee event where the departments made dinosaurs out of material off a community junk table.  Might be good for someone applying to work there or if you know someone who works there, but it was a bit of a bore. 

Finding the Roar:

"The Filmmakers’ Journey" (8 min) finds crewmembers talking about making the film with first-time director Peter Sohn, such as going out to locations that inspired the film’s locations.  "Every Part of the Dinosaur" (6 min) shows the animating the characters.  The team gets to herd cattle with a family that inspired the T-Rex family characters in "Following the T-Rex Trail" (7 min).  Sohn introduced three Deleted Scenes (11 min).  "Dino Bites" (4 min) and "Hide and Seek" (1 min) are two silly spots with the characters.  Lastly are three Trailers (7 min).

Hide and Seek:

While The Good Dinosaur was outshined by Pixar's other 2015 release, Inside Out, it delivered enough entertainment to make it worth viewing, especially for children, and I would expect re-visiting this world again in shorts and sequels, if they aren't already planned.

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