Cert: PG Runtime: 103 mins Director: David Lowrey Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oakes Fegley, Oona Laurence, Wes Bentley and Karl Urban
You can’t say ‘dragon’ over the radio
First off, as seems to be the case with all these live-action remakes, the casting is spot on. Fegley is fantastic in the central role – a child fending for himself in a forest, showing a wonderful blend of naivety and maturity. The real star though is the beast himself. Elliot the dragon is beautifully imagined, designed and rendered. It’s a genius idea to make him furry, like a (very) big dog, cuddly and friendly – his face is more expressive than most of the cast! The broken tooth and scar hint at a more tragic, but unexplored, back-story, but his true quality is his partnership with Pete, as his friend and protector.
For the most part, the movie is well written too – easier said than done when talking about a giant dragon living in a forest with a child! The dialogue is organic and believable, the story is simplistic, engaging and well paced, and the characters seem to have proper depth and motivations – even Urban’s not-too-bad guy, whose only really villainous trait is he’s a little greedy. For me though, the movie weakened slightly towards the final act. It’s mostly a story dealing with loss, fear, bravery and friendship, but the last half-hour tries to give it a little more action and spectacle, which I really felt it didn’t need. It’s a calm and touching movie, it doesn’t need added excitement to make it interesting.