Movie review: Pete’s Dragon

Movie reviews

Hello!

Welcome to the last movie review of this summer! We close the blockbusters season with another live-action fairy tale from Disney – Pete’s Dragon!

IMDb summary: The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon.

Pete’s Dragon is quite an unusual film for Disney because it is quite small – both budget wise and story/scope wise. However, small doesn’t mean bad – it just another type of picture. It is actually quite refreshing to see Disney spending time and money on newer and lesser known projects. Of course, I have to mention that Pete’s Dragon is not an original film but a remake of a musical with the same name from the 70s. I haven’t seen the 1977’s picture and I doubt that I’ll watch it because it is not a timeless Disney classic and it doesn’t have that good of a rating. Moreover, the new Pete’s Dragon more than satisfied all my wishes.

Writing

The film was written by the director of the feature David Lowery and the screenwriter/producer Toby Halbrooks. Halbrooks has written a few shorts and is also writing a script for 2018’s Peter Pan for Disney to be directed by Lowery. In addition to having his next directing gig sorted out, Lowery will also be writing the script for a war film The Yellow Birds. 

I really enjoyed the story that the duo penned for Pete’s Dragon. It was simple, yet well-crafted. The ideas about family and finding a place where you belong were classic Disney themes but they did actually work because of their universality and wide appeal.

The character development was also quite pleasant. I loved how Pete and Bryce Dallas Howard’s character Grace felt connected through nature. I also enjoyed the father-daughter relationship between Grace and her father, played by Robert Redford. The friendship between the main character Pete and his pet dragon Elliot was also cute and reminded me of other great films where children befriend various animals/beings – Max and E.T. are just two of many.  The main antagonist of the film was a cliche character but he served his purpose well in this family adventure picture.

Lastly, I kinda thought that Pete’s Dragon was a spiritual succesor to another live-action fairy tale of 2016 – The Jungle Book. If at the end of Mowgli’s story, he would have been found by humans and Baloo would have gone looking for him, we would most likely have gotten a Pete’s Dragon type of a situation.

Directing

David Lowery, who has only recently started to dip his toes into the blockbuster business, did quite a nice job with the film. The action scenes were entertaining, the mise-en-scene (the forest and the mountains) – gorgeous and the movie’s direction good as well.

The character design of Elliot – the dragon – was a bit weird. He didn’t really look like a dragon, more like a furry dog or a soft teddy bear that could also fly. I heard that a lot of people hated that the dragon was fury and didn’t have any scales. Personally, this change didn’t bother me – I think that it actually helped Elliot to stand out as a different kind of dragon. Also, from the business standpoint, a furry dragon is way more marketable and more merchandise friendly – what kid doesn’t want another soft plushie toy to his/her collection?

I saw the film in 3D but, honestly, it didn’t add anything to it. The effect actually made the whole film darker and, since a lot of scenes were already happening during the night, the 3D only made it harder for me to see the human characters and Elliot.

Music

The 1977’s Pete’s Dragon was a musical, but the studio decided to remake it as a drama/adventure film and drop the songs. However, the 2016’s film still had an interesting soundtrack by Daniel Hart. It seemed to me that the flick had more of a country-music inspired soundtrack and vibe. It was quite refreshing to hear some deep voices and guitar sounds after a lot of EDM and pop music in all of the other films this summer.

Acting

The main character of the film – Pete – was played by Oakes Fegley. When did the child actors have gotten this good? He was excellent in the role – sweet, relatable to children but still able to display acting chops that some adult actors lack. He has a bright future ahead.

Jurrasic World’s Bryce Dallas Howard played the adult-lead Grace and did a nice job. Grace was very different from Dallas Howard’s Jurassic World’s persona – more motherly and way more nature-orientated. Going forward, the actress has a drama thriller Gold coming up. Also, funny fact, I only recently realized that she was the one playing Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man 3. I did not recognize her with the red hair.

Karl Urban played the main antagonist of the film and was okay. Since I’ve only seen him in Star Trek as the caring doctor Bones, it was quite strange to view him as this unlikeable douchebag. He will be one of the villains in Thor 3, so, I guess, I’d better get used to this.

The cast also included Wes Bentley (We Are Your Friends, Interstellar), Oona Laurence (Southpaw, Bad Moms) and Robert Redford (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) among others. Bentley didn’t have much to do – he mostly reacted to stuff that was happening around him. Laurence was good too, while Redford was also believable as loving but a bit weird grandpa/father.

All in all, Pete’s Dragon was a good movie from Disney. It was well-written and nicely crafted. The film was not groundbreaking or the most original but it still made for some pretty good time at the cinema.

Rate: 4/5

Trailer: Pete’s Dragon trailer

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Movie review: Tomorrowland

Movie reviews

Hello!

A few days ago, I went to see the newest Disney movie – Tomorrowland and this is going to be my review! I am a huge fan of futuristic films, so I was excited to see this one.

First of all, I would like to praise Disney for making an original movie in this sequel, prequel, remake world. However, let’s don’t forget that this film was inspired by a ride in Disney world and that could go either way.

In addition, this movie is a CGI fest. It’s really interesting to compare it to the last movie I’ve seen before watching this one – Mad Max (review). While Mad Max relies almost entirely on practical effects, Tomorrowland is a complete opposite.

IMDB summary: Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.

If you have seen the trailer for this film, you know that it doesn’t give you any clues about what the actual story of the film is, so I went into to this film knowing absolutely nothing about it, except the vague premise of it.

Story & Pacing

This film had an interesting plot at first, however, the ending was really cliche. Moreover, I thought that the first two acts of the film were too slow, while the last one was rushed too much. Essentially, the whole film to me felt like an advert for Disney land attraction, though, the finale scenes turned it into a promotional video for the Green Peace.

Furthermore, despite the fact that this film has a rating of PG-13 (in my country), I believe it should be rated just PG (like in the US) because it’s quite childish story wise and it focuses a lot on child actors.

Acting

George Clooney was the start power of this film and it looked like he really cared about the project. For me, personally, he felt out of place.

Britt Robertson played the main character of the film and she was really good. She was actually the thing that brought me into this movie because I’ve seen her in The Longest Ride and I’ve watched the TV show she was in – The Secret Circle.

Raffey Cassidy, being only 12 or 13 years old, was the scene stealer of the film. Look out, because she is a start of the future.

The reveal concerning Hugh Laurie’s character wasn’t significant or surprising.  However, it was nice to see him getting gigs because I haven’t seen him in any big films after the House ended.

Themes

The themes of this film were both pessimistic and optimistic at the same time. While environmental messages were powerful, I don’t believe that they impacted the audience’s thoughts and feelings. The romantic aspect of the film was also handed improperly and even creepily.

The only thing I really enjoyed was the back story, how the Tomorrowland was created – I really love when films include real-ish historical facts.

Directing

The film is directed by Brad Bird, who previously made The Incredibles and Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocol. I have enjoyed both of these films and really liked Tomorrowland from the visual perspective. The CGI could have been finished up more finely in some places, but it was really great overall.The actions scenes were also shot interestingly.

To sum up, while the film was pleasing for the eyes, it didn’t please my mind or heart. Sorry, if this review was quote short, but I didn’t  want to talk badly about the movie and I’m sad that I didn’t like it, because I really wanted to.

Rate 2.5/5

Trailer: Tomorrowland trailer 

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