This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended cartoon and live-action. By contrast, this movie feels almost unnervingly realistic, with seamless effects that bring a gigantic green furry dragon remarkably to life. With strong characters and a pointed story, this is a great movie for kids. And grown-ups might find themselves getting caught up in it as well.
Six years after being lost following a car crash, 12-year-old Pete (Oakes Fegley) is still living in the deep forest, playing happily with his dragon companion Elliot, who's like an enormous cuddly green puppy dog. But sawmill worker Gavin (Karl Urban) is travelling deeper into the woods. His brother, the mill's owner Jack (Wes Bentley), is urging caution, perhaps because his fiancee is the park ranger Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard). Then one day on the work site, Grace spots Pete in the trees and brings him back to civilisation. No one believes his fanciful tales of life with a dragon, just like they didn't believe Grace's father (Robert Redford) decades ago. But Grace's sparky daughter Natalie (Oona Laurence) does. And she decides to help Pete get home.
What follows is a fairly low-key adventure, as various factors come into play, mixing threats against this primordial forest with threats against Pete's bond with Elliot. It's a simple structure that immediately resonates with the audience, mainly because director-cowriter David Lowery keeps everything within the realm of believability. And the actors deliver similarly authentic performances as people trying to grapple with a rather startling discovery. Urban has the most thankless role in this sense: the hothead who immediately makes all the wrong decisions for selfish reasons. But he brings some complexity where he can. And he's nicely balanced by Howard, Bentley and a seriously twinkly Redford. Meanwhile, both Fegley and Laurence deliver solid turns as believably resilient kids.
Continue reading: Pete's Dragon Review
Pete is a young boy who lives in the forest, not many little boys would survive in the wilderness alone, but Pete has a HUGE force on his side, one that most people wouldn't ever believe. Pete is constantly accompanied and protected by his dragon Elliot.
Grace is the forest ranger who's grown up hearing her father's stories about a fierce dragon in the forest but to her his stories are nothing more than the fairy tale, as most would surmise. However, Graces views on the whole situation might just start to change when she crosses paths with the little forest boy.
As Pete regales Grace with his adventurous way of life accompanied by his green friend, some of his stories start to ring a bell with her father's tales. With the help of Natalie, a local girl similar in age to Pete, Grace begins to try and trace back Pete's roots.
Continue: Pete's Dragon - Teaser Trailer
Although set in the 1970s, this dramatic thriller has a distinctly Western vibe to it, digging into the darker emotional corners of characters who are trying to make it through life on their own terms. It's moody and evocative, focussing on internal feelings rather that big action beats, so it feels dreamlike and a bit sleepy. And also strangely mesmerising.
When we meet Bob and Ruth (Affleck and Mara), they're hopelessly in love. She knows he's not good for her, but she's pregnant so makes the most of it. Short of cash in rural Texas, they plot a messy bank robbery, during which he injures police officer Patrick (Foster) and is sent to prison. Four years later, she's now living on her own with her young daughter, watched over by Bob's old mentor Skerritt (Carradine). But she's also struck up an awkward friendship with Patrick. So when Bob escapes from prison and comes back for her, he's in for a rather nasty shock.
Writer-director Lowery uses striking visuals and minimalistic dialog, shooting scenes with an unexpected sensuality to explore each point where these people interact. Everything is understated (the title is never explained at all), which allows the actors to give delicate, transparent performances that catch us off guard with their honesty. Affleck, Mara and Foster are fascinatingly complicated as three parts of an untidy triangle that only hints at romance. Carradine adeptly provides both wit and gravity to his scenes, while Parker gives a beautiful performance as Bob's reluctant buddy.
Continue reading: Ain't Them Bodies Saints Review
Bob Muldoon and Ruth Guthrie are a young couple desperately in love but living a dangerous life of crime. When one day they are cornered by a group of cops after Ruth seriously injures one of them, they are arrested and Bob insists it was he who fired the shot. Ruth is let off to carry on with her life, intent on waiting for her lover while pregnant with their first child. Four years later, Bob manages to make an escape, and sets out on a journey to be reunited with Ruth and the daughter he has not yet had chance to meet, while being pursued by every cop in the county. He has had a lot of time to yearn for things to be back the way they were, but life has changed for Ruth; will Bob's return be the repose she's been hoping for, or will it just bring more drama?
Continue: Ain't Them Bodies Saints Trailer
David Lowery Palm Springs, California, United States Variety to honor David O. Russell and "10 Directors to Watch" at the 2013 Palm Springs International Film Festival held at Parker Palm Springs Sunday 6th January 2013
This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...
Pete is a young boy who lives in the forest, not many little boys would...
Although set in the 1970s, this dramatic thriller has a distinctly Western vibe to it,...
Bob Muldoon and Ruth Guthrie are a young couple desperately in love but living a...