It’s like the creators decided to recreate the shots from The Revenant and insert dinosaurs from an early-2000s direct-to-DVD CGI feature. Never before have I so wanted to look at pictures of the backgrounds from an animated movie. It’s a shame that there were characters.
Now imagine an hour and a half of that.
Tell me if you’ve heard this before: a young animal protagonist tragically loses his father, winds up far away, meets a companion, then eventually finds the courage to return home. The Lion King similarities are really distracting, the flood that kills the father even looks like a herd of wildebeests (yes that’s the correct spelling) considering that it was colored brown and had trees sticking out of it like antlers. Also, what’s that other dinosaur movie? Oh right, Jurassic Park! Lots of shots were taken from Jurassic Park and its sequels.
The main character Arlo is nothing new and his whiny voice grated on me throughout the film (though in all fairness this is mostly due to the dialogue, I can’t imagine the actor making this work). In fact, I just watched this movie and had to look his name up on Wikipedia because I kept forgetting it. There’s nothing memorable about him. Also, why do the humans act like wolves and walk on all fours? Why do there have to be humans in this movie to begin with?
At the 56 minute mark I had to leave the room to get something and we paused the movie. It had felt like an hour and a half and I couldn’t believe it when I saw it was only 56 minutes! I knew what the message was within the first 5 minutes. Since this was Pixar I kept hoping for a more interesting point to the movie to be introduced. Imagine my disappointment when it wasn’t, and earlier the same year we had gotten Inside Out!
The redeeming factor of this feature is the animation on the backgrounds and the animals that don’t have to emote. I wasn’t kidding earlier about the (visual) similarities to The Revenant, one of the most beautifully shot movies I have ever seen in my life. The nature shots are the animated equivalent of that. If they could edit out the dinosaurs and humans and just give us 90 minutes of these shots I’d definitely watch it.
Speaking of the dinosaurs and humans, it is visually painful to see the contrast between these amazing backgrounds and the animated equivalent of Barney. Who thought it would be a good idea to draw the characters so childishly? It looks like they were awkwardly Photoshopped into nature photos. Maybe if the backgrounds matched the art style of the characters I wouldn’t care so much, but it’s infuriating to see how much more work went into what’s behind the characters!
My fiance and I are big Pixar fans and rented this because we hadn’t seen it. If you’re used to their better movies then avoid this one unless you want to be disappointed. Or just fast forward to the end credits and look at the beautiful scenery.
Rating: 2/5 ★★ (those backgrounds earned an extra star)
P.S. Yes I know that there are also a lot of plot similarities to The Revenant, but at least DiCaprio worked with his environment.