Film Trailers

Trailer: Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur Continues Pop Culture’s Refusal to Accept Feathered Dinosaurs

Paleontologists are ruining dinosaurs for us.  They keep making new discoveries which completely change what we thought we knew about dinosaurs.  The biggest and the baddest carnivore was the T-Rex, right?  Nope.  Shortly after the first Jurassic Park came out, an amateur paleontologist discovered something even bigger, appropriately calling it Giganotosaurus.  11 years later, Gigantosaurus was dethroned by the Spinosaurus, a dinosaur we’d known about since 1915, but the only specimen was destroyed during WWII.  A newly discovered Spinosaurus skull in 2006 revealed the beast “was probably considerably longer, and hence perhaps heavier, than T. rex and other large theropods.”  By late last year, paleontologists decided the Spinosaurus was still ginormous but not at all as we had imagined it.  In fact, it might have been the first semi-aquatic dinosaur.  “I think that we have to face the fact that the Jurassic Park folks have to go back to the drawing board on Spinosaurus,” co-author and University of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno said in reference to Jurassic Park III. “It was not a balancing, two-legged animal on land. It would have been something very peculiar.”

Don’t even get me started on the feathers thing.  In popular culture, dinosaurs have always been depicted as giant lizards.  However, as of last summer scientists at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences were blowing minds with a discovery that all dinosaurs could have had feathers.  As The Washington Post summarized, “Scientists previously believed that only avian dinosaurs — that is, the direct ancestors of our modern birds — sported feathers along with their scales. But the discovery of fossilized feathers on a newly identified dinosaur far removed from the bird lineage means that feathers likely were more widespread in the dinosaur world.”

SgSJk Not the way the Great Lord Spielberg intended it

Of the feathered dinosaurs, Kirk Johnson, a paleontologist for The Smithsonian, told The Washington Post, “Oh boy. They look so ugly. It’s really ruined the whole dinosaur thing. They looked pretty cool but now it’s like, ‘really, that’s what dinosaurs look like? Some sort of weird punk rocker.’ It’s pretty awful.”

Try to forget all of that, though, when you watch Pixar’s new trailer for The Good Dinosaur, which looks kind of like a Land Before Time character hanging out with one of the kids from The Croods and prancing around in gorgeous, at-times photo-realistic environments.  No, seriously, that’s about all this trailer wants to give up at this point, offering little hint of a story or indication as to whether there will be any dialogue in this movie.  Good for them.  Just hook us on the visuals at this point along with the general reminder that after Jurassic World dinosaurs seems so cool right now, minus feathers of course:

There will be dialogue, unless they’re playing a really long con by announcing a voice cast consisting of Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright, Steve Zahn, A.J. Buckley, Anna Paquin, Sam Elliott, Frances McDormand, Marcus Scribner, and Jack Brigh.  If you really know your production history trivia, though, you’ll note that at one point the cast was supposed to include Bill Hader, Judy Greer, John Lithgow and Neil Patrick Harris.  You might also remember that The Good Dinosaur is the movie the cost 67 Pixar employees their jobs.  The original director, Bob Peterson, was taken off the project, and the release date was pushed back from May 30, 2014 to November 25, 2015, leaving Pixar with no new movie to put out in 2014.  So, Pixar had to lay some people off, and the big wigs completely reworked The Good Dinosaur and dropped everyone from the cast other than Frances McDormand.   Peter Sohn is now the credited director.

That all sounds bad, making this seem like Pixar’s version of Ant-Man.  However, animated movies go through radical changes like this a lot, such as the version of Finding Nemo with William H. Macy as the dad and Woody being a total d-bag in the original treatment for Toy Story.  That being said, while The Good Dinosaur looks enjoyable it has the feel of one of Pixar’s slighter efforts.

Here’s the official logline:

“The Good Dinosaur” asks the question: What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? Pixar Animation Studios takes you on an epic journey into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend. While traveling through a harsh and mysterious landscape, Arlo learns the power of confronting his fears and discovers what he is truly capable of.

This is incidentally, Pixar’s last non-sequel for the foreseeable future.  It is due out November 25, 2015.  What do you think?

Source: Collider


    1. The title of the article was both a statement of fact and a joke. Paleontologists have been telling us that dinosaurs probably had feathers, but pop culture doesn’t seem to particularly care. If The Good Dinosaur actually featured a main character who was a feathered dinosaur I probably would have written something about how weird it looks. I personally prefer the old view of them all just being giant lizard things. So, I’m cool with it. However, it is kind of interesting to me that we just can’t seem to be bothered with feathered dinosaurs. I guess they just don’t seem nearly as cool.

  1. To be honest, this looks like the typical “boy meets dog and they go on an adventure” story….and I hate those. And I really don’t think that making the dinosaur the one who goes on an adventure and the human the dog makes it particularly more interesting.

    But above all I hate the character design. I really hate it. For something like this I would have loved something more realistic looking…with or without feathers.

    1. After Inside Out, Pixar has re-earned a lot of good will, but I’m not particularly blown away by The Good Dinosaur yet. It looks like a standard animated dinosaur movie with a twist that doesn’t add a whole lot, and I while I don’t hate the character design I don’t love it either. To me, it looks sub-par by Pixar standards. My immediate thought was that the main dinosaur looks just like Little Foot from Land Before Time, but then I looked it up. I was wrong about the similarities, but I actually like Little Foot a little better.

  2. I think the reason that Hollywood is ignoring the paleontologists is partly due to viewers being more able to recognize dinosaurs that have looked the same for years in movies, such as the noble T-Rex. Since the 1933 movie ‘King Kong’ everyone has gotten use to seeing the T-Rex as this large lizard like creature. If Hollywood changed the appearance of dinosaurs with every discovery, then the dinosaurs would be unrecognizable.

    1. As far as I know, the way the popular version of dinosaurs emerged is that the early paleontologists sorting out all the bones had an artist provide renditions of what the dinosaurs might have looked like. Assuming they were all ancient lizards, he provided his own artistic interpretation, making lots of educational guesses along the way. Those pictures forever shaped how we view the dinosaurs, and is what early Hollywood used for things like The Lost World and King Kong.

      This whole feathered version of the dinosaurs is only a decade or two old, though. It may be more accurate or a closer guess, but our mind has already been made up about what dinosaurs look like. A couple of weeks ago I noticed a direct-to-video animated movie on the shelf at Best Buy, and it had feathered dinosaurs on the cover. My first thought was, “Those aren’t dinosaurs.” I imagine that’s how most would probably react to feathered dinosaurs in The Good Dinosaur.

      The ingenious part of the Jurassic Park movies, at least, is that they’ve gotten around all of this by inserting science babble about using frog dna to fill in where needed meaning the dinosaurs in those movies are more hybrid and not true dinosaurs.

    1. The ever-shifting scientific view of dinosaurs, to me, is kind of like when it was decided that Pluto isn’t a planet. It speaks to something you were taught as being a fundamental truth of the universe while you were in gradeschool, and then later in adulthood advances in science remind you that accepted truths are to be forever challenged…eh. I’m sounding more high-minded than I mean to. The point is that for the majority of my life dinosaurs were said to look one way, and that was carried through in pop culture. Then to look up and see that we were totally wrong about that is understandably jarring. The question then becomes whether or not pop culture should reflect the accepted science of the time, or simply push forward with our popular imagination of what dinosaurs looked like. Based on the character designs in The Good Dinosaur I probably would have been more interested to see feathered dinosaurs in the movie just because I don’t think the dinosaurs in this movie look all that interesting. Then again, from an animation standpoint I imagine that animating a feathered creature would be a far taller task than simply doing something like what we see in The Good Dinosaur.

  3. There ARE feathered dinosaurs in the movie. A pack of antagonistic Velociraptors who appear briefly midway have…some feathers, on their heads and backs and a fan of colorful plumage on their tails.

    They’re still mostly bald, though (and glaringly lack arm feathers) but hey, raptors with feathers in a kid’s show is still a good sign that pop culture is gradually warming up to the idea that the scaly monsters of our childhood may have been plumed killer-protobirds.

    And at least these Velociraptors are more accurate than Jurassic World’s, with thin, weedy bodies and narrow upturned snouts.

    1. Yeah, I know. I was stunned when they showed up. I thought, “Well, shut my mouth. There are feathered dinosaurs in this. Granted, they’re among the bad guys, but there they are.”

  4. It plays a little long, but the visuals are spectacular in Pixar’s holiday film about family and overcoming fear. It’s a curious blend of coming of age story, buddy movie and mid west adventure

  5. Ok here’s two things. First IT IS A MOVIE like jurassic Park and world, it doesn’t have to be accurate because art is not about being accurate, is about spread or express a message, a feeling. Is about a piece of emotions with aesthetic and that is what this movie an Jurassic Park is. Because if the movie was accurate and the aim was to show what would happen if the asteroid never touched the earth, they would find out that there would still be a massive extinction that pushed Dinosaurs to evolve into bigger creatures, developed more feathers in order to protect them from the cold and great changes in their appearance. Since the climate was changing and the earth moving. Still with giant Dinosaurs transforming into a new species, mammals would have remained the same size and probably the same shape in order to scape OR evolve bigger since they can resist better the freezing conditions of the weather than some dinosaurs and eventually fight for the throne of the apex predator in the chain. Still, humans would never evolve into what we know now, apatosaurus DID NOT lived in the Cretaceous, and what in the damn hell is that legged cobra? Snakes evolved from giant long lizards that looked more like a monitor lizard, but they didn’t look like that.
    Still, it is a movie, so the aim should not be showing that, but maybe try to express a bigger message, which has been the lifetime aim in Pixar movies. Hope they don’t ruin those one.
    And last but not least, no paleontologist has ever said that come on… and if “pop culture” refuses to accept that, I mean… so What?

    1. Honestly, I must have sucked at writing this article because it really was born from a place of simply, “Huh. Did you guys know that the current thinking is that dinosaurs had feathers and we’ve been picturing them wrong this entire time? I had no idea. I wonder when or if the movies will incorporate that.”

      That’s it.

      And I wrote this before The Good Dinosaur even came out. I was simply using a movie trailer to springboard into talking about something I had only recently become aware of myself, i.e., feathered dinosaurs. Turns out, though, there are actually some feathered dinosaurs in The Good Dinosaur. Of course, they’re the villains, and Arlo and his family look like gumby while the T-Rexes all look like cowboys, but still they managed to sneak some feathers in there.

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