Saturday, 20 April 2019

Boy and dragon are the beast of friends

HOT on the heels of last month’s “reimagining” of Roald Dahl’s The BFG, Walt Disney’s Pete’s

HOT on the heels of last month’s “reimagining” of Roald Dahl’s The BFG, Walt Disney’s Pete’s Dragon gets the same treatment this week.

The concept of taking the popular cartoons of yesteryear and transforming them into big-budget special effects-laden tales is clearly nothing new.

And therein lies the problem — with their rise in popularity, the teams behind them really do have to come up with something special to make a mark.

The difficulty for Pete’s Dragon will be that it doesn’t feature Steven Spielberg, musical genius John Williams or Oscar winner Mark Rylance on its team. But director David Lowery has received critical acclaim and has the likes of Robert Redford and Bryce Dallas Howard at his disposal.

The film is a live action remake of the 1977 Disney classic and like Spielberg with The BFG Lowery, I’m sure, will have had one eye on paying tribute to the original. Remakes such as these are always an opportunity for newer, younger audiences to discover the joy of these stories, but nothing irritates fans of the originals more than overblown plots and action sequences that wildly deviate from what they remember.

For years, old wood carver Mr Meacham (Robert Redford) has delighted local children with his tales of the fierce dragon that resides deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest.

To his daughter Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), who works as a forest ranger, these stories are little more than tall tales — until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley).

Pete is a mysterious 10-year-old with no family and no home who claims to live in the woods with a giant, green dragon named Elliott. And from Pete’s descriptions, Elliot seems remarkably similar to the dragon from Mr Meacham’s stories.

With the help of Natalie (Oona Laurence), an 11-year-old girl whose father Jack (Wes Bentley) owns the local lumber mill, Grace sets out to determine where Pete came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this dragon.

Lowery looks set to take the helm of a new live action Peter Pan film so, with any luck, his research into the world of Walt Disney will be evident in this opening effort.

Pete’s Dragon is showing at Henley’s Regal Cinema from today (Friday).

Review: David White

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