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When the teaser trailer of this movie first came out, I will admit that although I was intrigued, the whole thing didn’t really grab me. But I didn’t really expect it to. I knew it was just a teaser trailer and that it was just going to show minimal stuff so the audience has a basic concept of what the movie was about. But then I have to remember that the teaser for Disney’s Zootopia that came out not too long ago grabbed me immediately.
Of course, being a closet furry probably did help.
But then I have to remember that none of the trailers for Inside Out really grabbed me either, and that movie is being hailed as one of Pixar’s best films in years.
I still haven’t seen it so no spoilers.
All in all, I knew I just needed to wait for what the next trailer brought us. And now that it is here, what do I think of it?
I can honestly say that I am very excited for this movie.
This new trailer just hit all the right notes for me. It delivered on an emotional level, a visual level, and surprisingly on a musical level. It conveyed so much with so little dialogue, and a lot of the problems I did have with the first trailer are pretty much gone now. With that being said, I think it’s time we look a little bit deeper.
The trailer begins with some shots of clouds in the sky and foliage in the rain. And just one second in, I realize, this movie is gorgeous. Like, really incredibly beautiful. The CGI is fantastic, and it seems like the Internet agrees. And after the whole ‘Jurassic World fake looking CGI’ fiasco and the internet as a whole hating on computer animation, that is an incredible thing to see. Even I thought that CGI has reached it’s peak, and I genuinely believed I would never again be blown away by computer animation. Even with the newest Dreamworks animated movies, I’ll go ‘Yeah, the animation’s good, but it doesn’t wow me’. Because we see competent animation across all the studios, we’ve began to feel that good animation is nothing more than standard animation. I even thought Pixar fell into this trap. With so many animation studios right now producing quality work, and with Disney seemingly beating Pixar at it’s own game with both great CG and great films while Pixar seemed to slip into a lull, I started to wonder if Pixar could really fill out a niche for themselves again. With all these companies making good CGI films, can Pixar really stand out on it’s own anymore? But this trailer once again proved to me why we call Pixar the masters of computer animation.
After a retread of the asteroid missing the earth scene from the first trailer, and another breathtaking moment with a photo realistic lizard passing by the forest floor, we get a look at Arlo, our sauropod main character.
One of the biggest complaints I do see about this movie is the fact that the dinosaurs look incredibly cartoony, and this is especially noticeable when this trailer shows off it’s incredibly realistic backgrounds. Like I said before, the stylistic choice doesn’t bother me, as I much rather have a unique style in CGI as opposed to the characters trying to be too realistic, which may cause the film to look too generic. It also reminds me of the dinosaur anime film You Are Umasou, which used dinosaur characters drawn with simple geometric shapes while the background was incredibly detailed, and if you read my review of that film you can tell I liked that art direction a lot. Still, I can understand why this might be a problem for some, and the movie may have worked if the dinosaur anatomy was a bit more realistic but the eyes and facial expressions were still expressively cartoony.
You know, like a certain other film I know.
Anyway, we see Arlo as he tries to survive in the wilderness, presumably separated from his family. As he tries to reach some berries high up in a tree, he slips on a rock and falls. He grunts as he does so, and this is when we realize that he is really just a kid. In case you didn’t know, Arlo’s original voice actor was Lucas Neff, who is an adult. You can even hear some of his voice in the original trailer (although it’s only composed of a single wail, so it’s kind of hard to tell if it’s a different voice or not). But the voice has been replaced by child actor Raymond Ochoa.
Like I said in my review of the first trailer, this movie had kind of a turbulent production, and the original director stepped down and the film was taken over by another. With that, the film was completely reworked and re-imagined, and one of the major changes was aging down the character of Arlo to make the film a ‘growing up’ sort of story. Now, you can tell that this was a fairly recent change as a lot of the concept art and even some fully rendered images showed Arlo as a much older looking character.
With that kid in for scale compared to how we see him in this trailer, you can tell that Arlo was supposed to be at one point a full sized dinosaur, but this trailer shows him to be much smaller. Now, making him a kid is going to bring in one unintended consequence.
Fan fic writers, I demand a crossover fic started immediately with a slash fic in progress soon after.
Already on the slash fic, sir.
The original idea for the movie also had a lot more characters, including a huge family for Arlo with characters voiced by John Lithgow, Frances McDormand, Neil Patrick Harris, Judy Greer, and Bill Hader. Of that cast, only Frances McDormand (Arlo’s mother) remains. John Lithgow (Arlo’s father) was recast while Neil’s, Judy’s, and Bill’s characters were scrapped completely (the major cast change may be one of the reasons there is very little dialogue in this trailer). They were also supposed to live sort of like Amish farmers, but that idea was scrapped too.
Now, I remember the last time a Pixar movie went through this much behind the scenes drama, the film that resulted wasn’t exactly the gold standard.
It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad. It was just kind of ‘eh’.
Brave was a movie that stunk of too many people with too many ideas trying to make a coherent movie, and that film went through a of of rewrites and direction changes as well. I sincerely hope this movie doesn’t turn out to be a jumbled mess, but it seems to be telling a much simpler story than Brave, and in the end that just might save it.
OK, let’s get back to the positive.
We get our first look at the human boy (who also looks different from his original rendering) who is apparently named Spot. In the trailer he gives Arlo the berries he was trying so hard to get before. Whether or not it plays out like this in the final film is yet to be seen.
Now, Spot’s inclusion in the story does already raise a few questions. I already saw in the comment section of the trailer some butthurt internet guys complaining how dinosaurs and people never lived together, apparently missing the part of the last trailer that showed this was a hypothetical world where dinosaurs never went extinct. But with that being said, does that mean we will see more humans in this movie? Where are the kid’s parents? How long have humans been around? Has there been dinosaur/human interaction before this? The dinosaurs are implied to have become sentient and can communicate beyond the ‘animal speak’ we normally see in cartoons. Does this mean the humans and dinosaurs would be able to communicate with each other? Will Arlo and Spot be able to communicate with each other? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
We then get some shots of Arlo wandering through the wilderness until he meets up with Spot once again. The trailer fades to black, and we hear Arlo tentatively say ‘hello?’
We then get some more shots of the movie with each moment fading to black as intense drums build up the atmosphere. We see the bison from the first trailer again, and I have an interesting theory about them that I’ll discuss later. We also see some cute little shrew like animals that wouldn’t look out of place in the Mesozoic, but I think the most interesting creature we see in this little transition is this.
We get a look at some sort of ceratopsian of indeterminate species. It has the frill of a Styracosaurus and the horns of a Triceratops. Heck, it honestly looks like those Triceratops’ from Ark: Survival Evolved.
I would love to talk about this game, but I fear by the time I get to it it’ll no longer be relevant.
Heck, it even reminds me of the Styracosaurus from that one cartoon Dino Squad.
Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it before. It was terrible.
Overall, the design is cool, even if those forward facing eyes are a bit on the unnerving side (ceratopsians eyes were on the sides of their head, not on the frill). It’s horns seem to be covered in an assortment of strange mammals and birds, which does remind me of another Disney moment….
….keeps great and small, on the endless round….
As the drums continue to build, we see Arlo entertaining Spot with some fireflies in a beautifully animated sequence. This is also the part when we get the song of the trailer: Crystals by Of Monsters and Men. Here is the full song on their Vevo.
Now, it’s been kind of a trend to put these alternative songs on trailers for animated movies that want to be taken a bit more seriously (heck, both How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Guardians: Owls of Gahoole used Kings and Queens by 30 Seconds to Mars). I know there will be some who don’t like this particular style of music and find it to be a cheap gimmick to make trailers seem grander than what they are, and I can see that. Music is subjective after all. But I’m not one of those people. I absolutely loved the song they used. It completely complimented the visuals and really enhanced the whole experience. It literally gave me goosebumps.
We also get a look at this strange creature here. It looks like some strange mix of viper and a lizard. Hmm, it looks like evolution would make some strange choices if dinosaurs never went extinct.
Even though Arlo is obviously terrified by this abomination from the Avatar world (Heck, I could be referring to the James Cameron film and the Nickelodeon cartoon and the joke would still work), it would seem Spot is willing to stand his ground, almost like a guard dog protecting his master.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that this film is playing with the ‘a boy and his pet’ storyline by having the human be the dog and the dinosaur be the boy. Even though it’s just a flip of a familiar plot line, I actually believe it brings an interesting dynamic to the film. It can play out like a boy and his dog story, but since both parties are potentially sentient there is potential for an even closer bond to form.
Now this is one of my favorite moments from the trailer. It’s short, but I think it’s just absolutely gorgeous. The lighting, the animation, the way it pairs perfectly with the music, it’s just flawless. It even gives insight at the characters relationship with each other, with the two just having fun running through a flock of birds. Man, it’s been so long since I’ve been floored by computer animation.
After some more bonding moments with the fireflies (man, these scenes just really show how good the lighting in this movie is!), we get this moment in what looks like a geyser field.
It has been pointed out that this environment looks very similar to ones found in Yellowstone, and in reality the whole movie looks like something out of Yellowstone National Park or Alaska. In fact, the whole environment seems very Ice Age-ish, which is a refreshing and interesting choice for a dinosaur film.
We also see that the characters are being chased by a flock of pterosaurs, which we also see later in the trailer. It seems to confirm that the pterodactlys seen in the first trailer are actually antagonists, and one of them is voiced by Steve Zahn. Which is weird, since when I heard Steve Zahn was cast I thought he would be a comical character, but I guess we’ll wait and see how that plays out.
Oh yeah, they’e also shown with inaccurate eagles talons as expected, but who knows, maybe after sixty five million years pterosaurs evolved grasping foot claws to compete with the ever growing bird population. That’s not too far fetched is it?
We also see the tyrannosaurs again, whom also have a confirmed cast (Sam Elliot will voice one named Butch, A.J. Buckley will voice his son Nash, and Anna Paquin will voice his daughter Ramsey). With a cast like that I can’t imagine them being full on antagonists, perhaps they’ll be obstacles but I don’t see them being full on sinister. On a side note, I have a theory on them and the bison. I believe the tyrannosaurs actually raise them or food, which keeps in line with the idea that the dinosaurs have become farmers.
And here we have Spot biting Arlo for some reason in front of the bison. As adorable as it is, it does remind me of this.
I told you the Littlefoot comparisons will come.
The trailer continues to show us a couple more scenes, such as one with Arlo going down a river kind of like how we saw in the first trailer, before showing us this adorable scene with Arlo and Spot playing together. We cut to the title card, before ending with Spot howling to the moon as Arlo tentatively joins in.
Wow, this trailer!
This trailer greatly exceeded my expectations, and hit all the emotional beats I didn’t even know I wanted! The animation is incredible, the music choice was spot on, and the emotion just hits hard. You can tell this is going to be a heartwarming and possibly heartbreaking film. I was certainly interested when I saw the teaser, but now you can call me genuinely excited!
Next time, after a good couple months of neglect, I finally get back to my Jurassic Park toy reviews. This time I’ll be talking about Jurassic Park 3.
Spinosaurus, Spinosaurus everywhere….