The Good Dinosaur Review

There is no studio in the history of cinema that has a track record like Pixar. Nearly every one of their movies is at least great, most are awesome, and very few are below average (ahem, Cars 2).

I got to see a sneak preview early this week of The Good Dinosaur at the gorgeous El Capitan in Hollywood. Here are some thoughts on both those things.

The Movie

I only saw the teaser trailer for Good Dinosaur, not wanting to spoil anything, and not needing an excuse to go see it. So I wasn’t sure what to expect. Was it people and dinosaurs living together. Did people have dinosaurs as pets? These all seemed logical ways to go with the premise (shown in the teaser) that dinosaurs didn’t go extinct.

If you’re like me and don’t want to know anything about the plot, skip the next part. In fact, I’ll put the teaser here next, and if you don’t want to know stuff, feel free to skip to the “The Theater” section below.

In the universe of The Good Dinosaur, dinos have evolved, so the herbivores have farms, the carnivores have cattle ranches, and so on. This is merely the backdrop of the story, of course. All Pixar movies have some core theme, and in this case, it’s growing up and overcoming your fears. Little Arlo is afraid of everything, and after he gets swept down a river, he has to find his way back. Along the way he picks up a feral human that does double duty as comic relief and foil to Arlo's foibles.

It’s part coming of age story, part travelog, and it’s got heart. I teared up several times. It’s well done and well written and I enjoyed it greatly.

The Theater: Dolby Vision and Atmos

This is the second movie I’ve seen in the El Capitan, and it doesn’t disappoint. It may seem odd reviewing a local theater for a website with a national audience but… well OK, it is. The key reasons why it’s awesome, Dolby Vision and Atmos, can be found at a theater near you (probably). And we’ll get to those.

If you are in the LA area, it’s worth making a trip to watch a movie at the El Capitan. The inside looks like a old-fashioned theater, with ornate walls and ceiling, and there’s even a balcony. Before GD started, we were even treated to a live organist playing classic Disney tunes. Very cool.

The old-fashioned aesthetic belies the projection technology. A 4K Christie projector with dual RGB laser heads makes an exceptionally bright and colorful image. When I saw Tomorrowland here, I proclaimed it the best picture I’ve seen in a theater. Being entirely animated, it was hard to compare this movie to that one, but it certainly looked fantastic and bright. Some of the shots looked photo-realistic, though much of that can be attributed to Pixar’s incredible animation.

The Atmos was less noticeable with GD, and I think that was partly due to our seats (balcony) and partly to do with how absorbed I got in the movie.

The Bottom Line

I highly recommend The Good Dinosaur, and if you have a chance to see in in Dolby Vision and/or Atmos, that’s an added bonus.

David Vaughn's picture
Geoff...saw "Cinderella" at that theater earlier this year and thought it was fantastic. Being 6 hours away by car is too far to drive for a movie, but when we visit our daughter at UCLA we plan on making a trek to see whatever is playing there. I've contemplated making a special trip down to LA just to see Star Wars at the Cap!
Geoffrey Morrison's picture
I *AM* seeing Star Wars at the Cap!
Thomas J. Norton's picture
Another option would be the AMC Prime theater in Burbank, which I actually preferred to the El Cap technically (both Dolby Vision and Atmos) , through without the old school movie palace vibe and organist (who doesn't play at every performance at the Cap, however). But the Prime has better seats, recliners (yea!) and seat shakers (boo!). Of course when I lived there it helped that I was also 10 minutes from the AMC with more convenient and free parking.