Dragon de­liv­ers on emo­tion

Central Otago Mirror - - CLASSIFIEDS -

Smart and sim­ple aren’t qual­i­ties of­ten seen in the same film, much less those aimed squarely at kids such as Pete’s Dragon.

Di­rec­tor David Low­ery’s Dis­ney re­make is a rare de­light in how it re­spects the in­tel­li­gence of its au­di­ence, while still of­fer­ing up lump-in-thethroat emo­tional beats in ser­vice of a wel­comely straight­for­ward story.

Given room to breathe and emote on screen, rather than hav­ing to ham­mer ev­ery point home ad nau­seam, the top­drawer cast de­liver be they a Hol­ly­wood le­gend (Robert Red­ford), ma­ter­nal fig­ure (Bryce Dal­las Howard), com­i­cal op­por­tunist (Karl Urban), or, most cru­cially, the young Pete.

You’ll buy new­comer Oakes Fe­g­ley’s years spent in the wilder­ness, as well as his friend­ship with a green furry dragon, this re­la­tion­ship pro­vok­ing painful pangs felt by both au­di­ence and fly­ing friend when Pete finds him­self in­te­grat­ing back into hu­man so­ci­ety, which in turn threat­ens his com­pan­ion.

As for that dragon, named El­liot by a then 4-year-old Pete, he’s charm­ingly brought to life through play­ful clum­si­ness, tan­gi­ble pres­ence and won­der­fullyan­i­mated non-ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

As he soars and swoops through the air, it con­jures the same sense of won­der and ex­cite­ment you’ll see on the faces of his hu­man play­mate and wit­nesses.

Gen­tly min­ing nos­tal­gia for kids’ films of by­gone eras through its the­matic sen­si­bil­i­ties and some­where-in-the-mid-80s set­ting, Pete’s Dragon gen­er­ally avoids un­earned sen­ti­men­tal­ity and on-thenose cul­tur­ally spe­cific touch­stones (yes, in this re­gard it’s no Stranger Things).

In­stead, this is a gen­tle tale that brings gen­er­a­tions to­gether for an adventure – and, yes, a tear or two in the process – as it goes about us­ing the fam­ily con­nec­tions within the film to pro­vide an emo­tional core that should im­pact on grown ups and kids alike. – Steve Ne­wall, Flicks.co.nz

El­liot the dragon is charm­ingly brought to life through play­ful clum­si­ness, tan­gi­ble pres­ence and won­der­fully-an­i­mated non­ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

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