Top critical review
Weird story. Seems out of synch with Pixar's style
Reviewed in the United States on January 31, 2019
First off, pay a lot of attention to the vital first few minutes of the film. We didn't pick up on the fact that this was supposed to be THE asteroid and hence the entire movie takes place in an apparently alternate timeline from ours, a timeline where dinosaurs never died out. If you miss that implication, as we did, you'll spend a lot of the movie scratching your head.
I lost count pretty early in as to how many sharks this movie manages to jump over. Worse than the last 15 minutes of Dory even. I could maybe accept that these dinosaurs evolved intelligence, but how they built a sort of agrarian culture without opposable thumbs or tools is confounding. They plow fields with their nose (without worrying about bruises, breathing, or getting their nostrils plugged with dirt); they chop down trees by simply swiping their tail clean through the trunk in a single blow; they irrigate their fields by sucking up thousands of gallons of water into their lungs then blowing it across the field like a sprinkler. They build houses, silos, weave nets, set traps, and construct primitive seeding machines with nothing but their mouths. And this is all within the first 10 minutes or so of the film.
The dinosaurs in this film are apparently made of some sort of indestructible rubber substance. It's odd enough seeing an apatosaurus scaling vertical cliffs, but when they drop off of hundred-foot precipices and suffer no more harm than a few scrapes and temporary sprains and bruises it's a bit hard to swallow. Mud is apparently indelible and indestructible once applied to stone, in spite of raging storms that routinely cause massive flash floods downstream but somehow never wash away the homestead or even the simple footprints on the wall.
I’ve barely scratched the surface. I guess I can only suspend disbelief so far.
The characters seem kind of flat and uninteresting. No one with any of the charm of Dory, or Mater, or Buzz Lightyear. I couldn’t bring myself to care too much about anybody. The “Lion King moment” was predictable from the beginning. Motives were really hard to figure out: why did “Spot” follow Arlo around and try to help him; why would Arlo so quickly forgive Spot when Spot was responsible for — (well, watch the movie and find out); what the hell was up with the crazy styracosaurus? And so on. The obligatory Pixar touching-and-poignant plot resolution was confusingly unnecessary (why should “Spot” have to go off with the random strangers that show up when he has the best friend in the world already… just because they’re the same species as him? Our dogs don’t have to run off with every random dog family that shows up). This stole the thunder from the second and more important touching-and-poignant conclusion, which was so completely downplayed it almost goes by unnoticed.
On the plus side, the visuals are, in the Pixar tradition, stunning. Unbelievable sense of reality to everything except the animal characters. It’s just beautiful to watch. The complete disconnect between the incredible realism of the graphics and the utter nonsense of the storyline and situations may be the chief reason the film is confusing. If it was Wile E. Coyote I wouldn’t even care. Young children probably won’t care either. So if you want to watch a magnificent piece of computer animation, and your kids like a story with dinosaurs, you really might actually enjoy this film.