What’s shines in this movie is primarily the environmental animation. The world the characters inhabit is some of the most beautiful, realistic work to leave the Pixar studios. Sadly it is also some of the weakest story telling. Dinosaur comes across more as a test reel for a bunch of new techniques than anything approaching their true capabilities, such as the recent Inside Out. The world is about as real as The Flintstones, and about as well thought out, despite the clever, initial premise (and forgetting all the science and statistics it ignores).
Generally, this is a Western, even down to the hackneyed accents. If that’s what you’re looking for, watch Rango instead. Rango, at least, takes a stand for its audience. Dinosaur is all over the place, neither safe enough for young kids nor complicated and interesting enough for older ones and adults. Basically, what you get with this is a lot of pretty, moving art with a few really good moments.
I don’t mean to imply that the acting talent was shirking on this film. They did what they could with what they were handed and how they were directed. And as Sohn’s first feature writing and directing, he inherited a project that was already in trouble when he stepped into the vacant chair. The story had many cooks and revamps before it hit the screen. While there aren’t many gaps explicitly exposed by those events, the lack of a believable story was probably part of the casualties, making the results less the stellar.
There are good moments in the 80+ minutes of the story. Some laughs. Some provocative, heartfelt sniffs, but outside of the animation art itself, it is a pretty missable bit of cinema.