10 things you didn't know about new Pixar movie 'The Good Dinosaur'
SINGAPORE – Movie magic can make even the most complex fantasy worlds look and feel real – and the films from Pixar, which took us to the sweeping underwater world of Finding Nemo and to the melancholy landscape of Wall-E – are some of the most beautiful of them all.
This year, Pixar already has one impactful, indelible mega-hit: Inside Out, which went deep inside the mind of 11-year-old Riley and her 5 core emotions. But audiences are in for a treat this November because a second Pixar film will hit the big screen.
Enter The Good Dinosaur, reaching outwards to a vast external world as much as Inside Out drew inwards.
It's about loss and being lost. It's about going home and leaving it. It's about friends, about family – and the guilt, pain, joy, and sweetness that come with loving them.
Below, 10 notable things to know about Dinosaur, which hits theaters in the Philippines November 25.
There are details about the plot as well as descriptions of some scenes which you may have glimpsed in the trailers. If you would like to avoid these, read no further. If you'd like to proceed, click the button below to reveal the rest of the story.
All photos courtesy of Disney Pixar
1. Bring the tissues
Don't let the early trailers, which are more spare and cryptic, fool you. Like any Pixar film, the core of Dinosaur is how it explores and unfurls its layers of emotions. In this film, framed within a coming-of-age story, Arlo, a young apatosaurus, battles feelings of isolation, debilitating uncertainty, and fear. A young new friend, a human named Spot, keeps him company.
In what looks to be early on in the film, Arlo loses his dad and must make his way back home to the Clawed-Tooth Mountains, passing unfriendly lands and meeting dangerous foes.
Arlo must prove to others – but most importantly, to himself – that he is "done being scared" and is ready to take his place in this world.
One particularly sad scene was played for the press at a media event in Singapore. Alone and missing his family, Arlo tries to explain to Spot that he lost his father through stick figures. He knocks down the biggest one, representing his dad. Spot doesn't seem to understand – until he responds in his own way, and we understand why Spot, too, is alone.
Though Spot never talks in the scene, he curls up beside Arlo, patting him silently. And together, they howl at the moon, at once releasing and embracing their grief.
You can see a little bit of that scene in the 2:00 mark in the trailer below. When we previewed the scene in full, there was not a dry eye in the house.
2. Changes in the spotlight
It's not unusual for films to go through lots of changes as the picture is made, but Dinosaur's upheavals were made in the public eye – Pixar veteran Bob Peterson was replaced by co-director Peter Sohn in 2013, and this pushed the release date back a number of months.
"Bob Peterson first started this thing in 2009, and he asked me to come and develop. In developing it, we came up with a fun version of the world – and then the story got really complicated. So they asked me, because I had been with the story already for a while, please take over and find a new take to it," Peter told Cinemablend.
Previously, 2012's Brave saw a similar upheaval – Brenda Chapman was taken off the project and Mark Andrews stepped in; the two shared directing credits in the final film.
3. Who was supposed to be in it?
One of the bigger changes was in making Arlo younger than he was originally envisioned, and this resulted to key changes in the cast.
The lineup is already star-studded – Anna Paquin, Sam Elliott, Frances McDormand, and Steve Zahn are among the actors. But originally, stars like Neil Patrick Harris, Judy Greer, Bill Hader, and John Lithgow were all set to play Arlo's siblings and dad, according to Deadline.
4. Peter Sohn plays a role
It's not unusual for Pixar talents to sometimes end up voicing characters in the films – early on in production, they sometimes dub the voices in, and the results can stick.
Director Peter voices the mysterious Pet Collector, a Styracosaurus who harbors fears about the dangerous world and carries a small zoo of what appear to be prehistoric woodland creatures to protect him.
Peter has previously voiced Pixar characters you may recognize, including Scott “Squishy” Squibbles from Monsters University and Emile from Ratatouille.
Peter Sohn is the inspiration behind the adorable kid in Up, Russell, who befriends the cantankerous Carl.
6. John Ratzenberger appears
And of course, John Ratzenberger, who has a role in every Pixar feature, makes an appearance here – this time as one of the raptors who make trouble for Arlo and his newfound friends, a group of T-rexes.
John has voiced Hamm the Piggy Bank in Toy Story, The Abominable Snowman in Monsters Inc, The Underminer in The Incredibles, among many more.
7. Easter eggs!
Pixar is very well known for their many Easter eggs, or references to other Pixar films. We've actually seen a few teasing Dinosaur in previous films: In Inside Out, Riley's dad's car runs into a dinosaur en route to San Francisco. And the dinosaur they're photographing looks a lot like the Pet Collector. (READ: 'Inside Out': 7 Pixar Easter eggs to look out for)
The eggs vary in every film, but there are some staples – A113 appears in most films, a reference to the classroom at the California Institute of the Arts where many Pixar alumni studied. It will likely appear in the film, as Pixar Animation Studios president Jim Morris teased during our interview. The Pizza Planet truck is also a favorite to look out for.
8. Outside in
Pixar films are known not only for their emotional depth but also for their sheer beauty, combining artistry and design with the best technological tools. Dinosaur is no exception.
It feels vast – even in a world filled with larger-than-life beasts.
"We didn’t want it to feel like a walk in the park,” says Peter in the film's production notes. “This world feels big – even to a dinosaur.”
Aerial and wide shots show just how tiny these gigantic creatures really are. The Clawed-Tooth Mountains, Arlo's home, is a kind of visual anchor for the film.
The world can look peaceful and serene, such as when Poppa shows Arlo the magic of the fireflies, or when Spot and Arlo howl at the moon.
But in a heartbeat, it changes and turns dangerous – Arlo loses Poppa in a flash flood; the lands where T-Rexes are king are dry and intimidating.
At the Singapore media event, we were shown a full scene of Arlo galloping amongst a large flock of white birds, and one where he pokes his head through the clouds and in the distance, glimpses home.
The mood of the film just lifts, and the heart lifts with it.
9. Research trips
For all that the film is set thousands of years back in an alternate reality where dinosaurs never died out, there are times that it feels like an old-fashioned American Western.
In fact, since the dinos remained on earth, they created a new kind of society where herbivores are farmers and carnivores are ranchers. Story supervisor Kelsey Mann says the T-Rexes Arlo meets are the dinosaur version of cowboys. “They’re quiet, intimidating, tough and massive, but they play a big role in opening Arlo’s eyes to his fear.”
Some of the team visited the American Northwest to take inspiration for Arlo's home, the effects team visited the American River, and there were also research trips to Juntura, Oregon, and to regions surrounding Jackson Hole, Wyoming – and you'll see just how these lands have inspired the brutal but beautiful world where Spot and Arlo find each other.
I'm leaving you with one final tip:
10. COME EARLY!
You must not miss the Pixar short Sanjay's Super Team, directed by Pixar's Sanjay Patel. Like all their shorts, it is an exquisite work of art. This one explores generational and cultural gaps and the heartaches that come with growing up.
It's coming from a deeply personal place, inspired by director Sanjay's Indian heritage and his family – and made out of love and a creative effort to connect with his roots.
The film opens with a young Sanjay and dad at opposite ends of the room. Sanjay wants to watch his favorite show, but his dad wants to pray.
Ultimately forced to join his dad, Sanjay finds himself in a terrifying new world.
I won't spoil it, but please, please, come early and do not miss the Pixar short. It is stunning and in a few minutes, manages to put forth everything we love about Pixar – lush, dramatic, snazzy visuals with genuine, striking heart. After seeing it, I left the venue wishing there were more.
Will you be seeing The Good Dinosaur in theaters? What's your favorite Pixar film? Let us know in the comments below. – Rappler.com