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The Good Dinosaur by Mychael Danna & Jeff Danna (Review)

posted Dec 10, 2015, 8:22 PM by Kaya Savas

Pixar has been pretty much dominated by anyone with the last name Giacchino or Newman, so it’s nice to hear some different voices take on one of their stories. The Danna brothers compose both solo and together, and here they combine to give The Good Dinosaur all the warm feelings you’d expect.

The Good Dinosaur has the stigma of “drama” behind the scenes attached to it. The film was wiped off the release schedule last year when Pixar was unhappy with its direction, it went through a complete overhaul. And that is simply part of the movie-making process. I can tell you that EVERY movie has “drama” or problems behind the scenes whether you hear about it or not. The best part of filmmaking is working through problems and finding solutions to tell the story the best you can. The musical approach here is warm and homey. There is a bit of a southern/western sound here with the banjo and fiddles, and it works to add this sense of grounded familiarity. The score has a playful bounce to it balanced with some more emotionally resonating moments. The track “Make Your Mark” is simply beautiful and echoes what the score does right. The western side of the score peeks through more so later on, and it gives the score texture and character. But the journey as a whole feels a tad bit unfulfilling. The tension and action moments feel a bit phoned in and not too encompassing of pushing the narrative. It’s more like “Okay, exciting action music! Stop! Now heartwarming strings!”. The score as nice as it is, and at times a bit magical, just feels scripted in certain parts.

The Good Dinosaur certainly has some moments that flourish with warmth and wonder, and there are many strengths within this lighthearted adventure. However, the bulk of the music in terms of storytelling just feels too scripted and by the books at times. The score has moments that shine brightly on their own especially where melody shines through, but as a whole it lacks emotional continuity and flow. The music is great while listening, but you’ll move on pretty quickly afterwards.