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These two are destined to be viewed the same, as movies muddled by director changes that, while not bad movies, compare unfavorably to Pixar's other efforts. Were they released by any other studio, the response would've been, I feel, much more forgiving and favorable. It's viewers' inability to view these two outside the context of Pixar's other movies that hurts them the most, in my opinion. Brave has Finding Nemo to contend with, as the comparisons are inevitable, with one about the mother-daughter relationship and the other about father-son. As Finding Nemo is one of Pixar's most popular and well received films, Brave's story sharing the core of Finding Nemo's, only gender-swapped, it's destined to be a losing battle for most.
Similarly, from what has, at least in the past, been a studio focused upon originality, The Good Dinosaur stands no chance. I've seen it called derivative, a claim I won't really dispute. This isn't WALL·E, Inside Out, Ratatouille, or Up. No real risks are being taken. This is Pixar in its other mode, trying to tell a simple, no-frills story, seeking to win viewers over by other means, namely by creating characters who succeed at being memorable in spite of feeling somewhat familiar. Unfortunately, this is an approach shared by every maligned Pixar movie. Brave, A Bug's Life, Cars, Cars 2, Monsters University, and now The Good Dinosaur.
In addition, I feel both were hurt by their timing and the resulting expectations. Brave followed Cars 2, the first Pixar film to ever receive a "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, was only separated by one movie from Toy Story 3, Pixar's biggest critical and commercial success, and was the first original movie since Up, an Oscar Best Picture nominee, an award Toy Story 3 was also up for. The Good Dinosaur came only months after what's been called Pixar's comeback, Inside Out. Posters for it even say "from the makers of Inside Out," making it that much harder not to compare the two.
Personally, I was moved by Brave's mother-daughter relationship, more than Finding Nemo's father-son relationship even, and about had a sexual experience seeing The Good Dinosaur's (non-character) animation, in addition to finding myself blindsided with emotions I was not expecting. I thank my low expectations. With each one, I didn't go in looking for another (insert other Pixar movie). I went in just looking to have a good time at the movies, trusting Pixar to not let me down as they still haven't managed that feat. I came out rewarded by two supremely pleasant surprises. Sadly, I'm pretty much alone on that with both.
Anyway, when it comes to which of the two I prefer, I'll take the one whose animation had me about (excuse the crude language) jizzing in my pants. Prior to The Good Dinosaur, nearly every movie that wowed me with its animation disappointed in every other respect. 5 Centimeters Per Second, for example, AKA one of the dullest animated movies I've ever seen. The Good Dinosaur was pleasing to the eyes and to my cold, dead heart. For that, it wins.
I'm not the best person to judge this matchup - it's been forever since I watched Brave. From what I can remember, though, Brave was weak. The Good Dinosaur has some big faults, but it'll take this matchup.
These two are at the bottom of Pixar's heap... (If you block Cars 2 out of your memory) I'll take Brave, because while it didn't always work for me, Good Dinosaur took so many shortcuts that none of it impacted me emotionally. Not to mention that they played fast and loose with physics/science whenever it suited their needs, which took me right out of the world they were trying to create.
Neither are among Pixar's best efforts, but I enjoyed both of them. Gotta go with Brave though.
These are among Pixar's "worst". They just are. But the thing is...even a "weak" Pixar movie is still a pretty darn good movie. I still have seen Brave only the once, and it will take me some time to get around to The Good Dinosaur again, mostly just because I won't be in a huge rush to revisit them like I have been with some Pixars in the past. But I don't mean to take anything away from them, because they are perfectly enjoyable films. And yes, with the animation in The Good Dinosaur, Pixar has completely outdone themselves. Every Pixar movie LOOKS great, but I have not been so transfixed by the animation itself since Finding Nemo as I was with The Good Dinosaur. The environments look completely REAL, so much so, that it's hard to believe they weren't just actually filmed. Anyway, that's enough of a point to win this one for The Good Dinosaur. They'll both be near the end of my Pixarchart (just ahead of Cars 2), but nonetheless in the top half of my Flickchart.
I prefer Brave over Good Dinosaur.
I liked Brave more than most, it easily wins here
The Good Dinosaur for me