Petes Dragon (2016) – A Quick Capsule Review

Petes Dragon (2016) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
The original Pete’s Dragon was never one of my favourite Disney films. It was okay.  But nothing more.  Considering how much success Disney have had of late with adapting their own animated to live action, I had high hopes they could deliver something better here.  Sadly however I was once again left with an overriding feeling of Meh!.  It’s nothing specific – the cast and effects are both good – but the film and it’s central story of a boy and his dragon just didn’t connect.  Was the same for my seven year old daughter also… let’s hope the upcoming adaptations are more successful. 

Best Bit: The Dragon is well realised

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Avoid

If You Liked this Try: Cinderella (2015), Beauty And Beast (2017), Pete’s Dragon

IMDB Rating: 

 

Author: Phil Hobden

The Best and the Worst of 2016 – Motion Picture Maniac

The Best and the Worst of 2016 – Motion Picture Maniac

A Blog Motion Picture Maniac

2016 absolutely sucked, not just because we had, what felt like, twice as many bad films as usual, but more celebrity deaths than one can count and the UK and US trying to out-do each other in the “see who can make the worst political decision ever” competition. But alas, we are here just to talk about the films we had this past year, and usually I would stick to top 10 lists but it seems 2016 was so prolific I had to go for dreaded top 20’s instead of 10’s; not sure if that means the year was extra good, or extra bad.

TOP 20 BEST FILMS OF 2016

I’ve heard wonderful things about Moonlight, Patriot’s Day, Manchester By The Sea and Silence but they are yet to come out in UK just yet, so don’t go thinking they’re not on the list because I didn’t like them or any such nonsense, I just haven’t seen them so I can’t comment. Either way, here are my personal favourite films of 2016, if you don’t like them – tough!

  1. Everybody Wants Some!!
  1. The Girl With All The Gifts
  1. Moana
  1. Café Society
  1. Anthropoid
  1. Hush
  1. The Neon Demon
  1. Brotherhood
  1. Deadpool
  1. Zootopia
  1. 13th
  1. Finding Dory
  1. Hell Or High Water
  1. Arrival
  1. Deepwater Horizon
  1. Captain America: Civil War
  1. Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice – Ultimate Edition (I’m not sorry)
  1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  1. American Honey
  1. I, Olga Hepnarova

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

The Conjuring 2

Midnight Special

Sully

Hail Caesar

Doctor Strange

 

DISQUALIFICATIONS

These titles were released in 2016, but IMDB, for whatever reason, decided to count them as 2015 releases, I choose to put them in their own list not to put them down but rather as an excuse to include as many good films as possible, if I included them in the main list I would have to remove some other titles already on there, and even if the disqualifications are better than those films I would have to take off the list to make room, I would still rather do it this way so none are left out, honourable mentions are difficult enough to pick out.

Knight Of Cups

Eye In The Sky

Son Of Saul

Green Room

The Witch

 

BOTTOM 20 WORST FILMS OF 2016

Now for the other list, the 20 movies this year that made me question my existence and hate myself for sitting in front of as they played out, like I said before, this was a bad year for films, I tried to keep it to 10 slots but it couldn’t be done, better luck next year.

  1. Dirty Grandpa
  1. The Boss
  1. Fifty Shades Of Black
  1. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
  1. God’s Of Egypt
  1. Allegiant
  1. Pete’s Dragon
  1. The Choice
  1. Alice Through The Looking Glass
  1. Ice Age: Collision Course
  1. Mother’s Day
  1. The Other Side Of The Door
  1. Swallows And Amazons
  1. Equity
  1. Me Before You
  1. Ballerina
  1. Dad’s Army
  1. Nine Lives
  1. Norm Of The North
  1. Miracles From Heaven

NOTE – Miracles From Heaven is the worst film of the year for me because, despite not having production values as horrid as some of the other films on the list, religious propaganda just rubs me the wrong way, especially when it’s as arrogant and pompous as this and not just badly made (which it is).

 

DISHONOURABLE MENTIONS

The Boy

Risen

Now You See Me 2

Keeping Up With The Joneses

The Forest

 

BEST LINES IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER

*Everything he says* – Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool

“I need to get her out of me” – Bella Heathcote in The Neon Demon

“Be careful not to choke on your aspirations, director” – James Earl Jones in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

“To commit suicide you need a strong will, my child. Something you certainly don’t have” – Klara Meliskova in I, Olga Hepnarova

“If God is all powerful, he cannot be all good, and if he is all good, he cannot be all powerful” – Jesse Eisenberg in Batman V Superman (again, I’m not sorry)

“I hope he comes all over your car!” – Sasha Lane in American Honey

“You’d think there were ten of me” – Ben Foster in Hell Or High Water

“I am just a dumb bunny but we are good at multiplying” – Ginnifer Goodwin in Zootopia

“Never tell a soldier he does not know the cost of war” – Alan Rickman in Eye In The Sky

“Suck it, bipeds” – Ed O’Neil in Finding Dory

 

TOP SURPRISINGLY GOOD PERFORMANCES

Shia LaBeouf in American Honey

Gal Gadot in Batman V Superman

The Rock in Moana

Jamie Dornan in Anthropoid

Jai Courtney in Suicide Squad

Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Nocturnal Animals

 

MEMORABLE SCENES

Darth Vader rebel massacre – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Church shootout – Anthropoid

Granny’s peach tea – Batman V Superman

Airport royal rumble – Captain America: Civil War

Alone at the morgue – The Neon Demon

Truck murder – I, Olga Hepnarova

Bye-bye baby – The Witch

They arrive – Arrival

Alan Rickman’s final scene – Eye In The Sky

The pit – Son Of Saul

 

FAVOURITE SOUNDTRACKS

Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL – Batman V Superman (notably “Is she with you” & “This is my world”)

Cliff Martinez – The Neon Demon

Johann Johannsson – Arrival

Robin Foster – Anthropoid

Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina & Lin-Manuel Miranda – Moana

Michael Giacchino – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (I know some people aren’t too fussed, but I most certainly was, especially the track “Your Father would be proud”)

Pete’s dragon – motion picture maniac

Pete’s dragon – motion picture maniac

A Blog Motion Picture Maniac

Continuing the trend of turning old Disney movies into live action romps is Pete’s Dragon, a boring, childish, flatly edited, cartoonishly written, badly acted load of awkward tripe, rife with annoying characters and plagued by music fit only for a straight-to-Disney channel cash grab, which is what the whole thing honestly looks like, a cheap and rushed pander to 5 year olds. Quite stunning really, as the faces onscreen include Bryce Dallas Howard, Karl Urban and Robert Redford, but oh well, hope the new houses their pay cheques promised are worth it because the movie isn’t worth the vomit I spewed when the ordeal was over.

Story-wise, a 5 year old boy named Pete loses his parents in a car accident, involving a CGI deer, while driving past a thick forest, only to be met by the giant green fury dragon he names Elliot; who looks after him from here on in. Cut to 6 years later, Pete is discovered and thrust back into society with the help of Bryce Dallas Howard while Elliot accidentally gains unwanted attention from Karl Urban who wants to capture him. Now when the film begins, within about the first five minutes, it becomes apparent that the dialogue probably isn’t going to be the smoothest as it written with the intent of being as cheesy and sappy as possible, either that or the actors simply lack the necessary talent but either way, something doesn’t feel right from the get go.

The script is so concerned with all things mushy-gooshy it’s rather sickening, and the music isn’t exactly handy in lessening the awkwardness, if anything it actually makes it worse, magnifying the, ahem… “Heart”, and shoving it right down your throat. Moving onto exhibit B, after establishing that the dialogue and acting aren’t going to be the best, we get to the introduction of Elliot, whereupon I realised the editing and technical juxtaposition have the same thematic artistic construction as an angler fish’s dental records. When Elliot emerges from the trees and into the light for the first time, the attempts to generate awe completely falter due to, what appears to be, disinterested direction, there’s no personality, no artistic integrity, aesthetic or craftsmanship to the film’s technical body, making the whole thing feel very flat indeed.

The CGI on Elliot is pretty good if I’m honest, as cheesy as he is, there is a fine amount of detail at work here, I never stopped acknowledging that he was CGI but that may have been down to the rest of the film failing to immerse me, such as other CGI creations that clearly didn’t have as much time or effort put into them as Eliot, like the deer that causes the crash at the start. You would think some of the bigger names in this Disney Channel rubbish would offer some kind of solace but no, Bryce Dallas Howard sounds like she’s playing a naive Disney princess, Robert Redford tries but sadly not enough and Karl Urban looks as though he’s just passing the time before Dredd 2 gets confirmation, acting in a similar cartoon fashion to his role in the Walking With Dinosaurs movie… Yuck.

But worst of all is the character of Pete, not necessarily the little actor playing him who was just doing as he was told, but the character is one of the most annoying little shits ever put to screen, six years of living in the woods and he behaves as though he’s been there only for a single weekend, aside from barking like a dog when he remembers to and having long hair and torn clothes, there really isn’t all that much in regards to behaviour that suggest he’s been away from society for six years since the age of five. His age leads us to the biggest issue I had with the film, when he is brought back to civilisation, he sees a balloon and it frightens him, he hears the phone ring, it frightens him, he draws a picture of Elliot, someone says it looks like a dragon, he asks “what’s a dragon?” My memory doesn’t serve me brilliantly these days, but I’ll tell you what I do remember, when I was five I knew what a balloon was, I knew what a phone was and I knew what a dragon was.

Not saying every child would know about those things by the time they turn five just because I did, but it looks as though the writers had forgotten the character left society at the age of five and rather wrote him as though he was the boy from Room. It’s like they didn’t stop and think “ok, by the time a person is five, what would they already know about before leaving civilisation?”, they were just box ticking, “he’s been away from society for years so let’s make him not know what anything is”, it is neither realistic or intelligent if you ask me. Pete being afraid of every day things was a cheap ploy to fish for sympathy for the character without him actually earning it, because of his age when he entered the woods he had no right to be afraid of balloons or phones, just a lousy writing strategy designed to make us go “aww, poor thing”, but no… No, no, no.

Even character motivation couldn’t be more screwed, why does Karl Urban want to capture Elliot? He doesn’t even know, someone asks him and then point out that he can’t answer the question, he says later that capturing a dragon will put him on the map, a villainous motivation even less original than just wanting lots of money. I hated this film, it’s sappy, gratuitously whimsical, the characters are all cartoons, the visuals try but ultimately come off as bland despite second-long instances of potential, uninterested acting, flat editing and even a badly thought out promise of anti-deforestation subtext. Yes, towards the beginning, Howard sabotages logging equipment by spray painting over the red mark on one tree, not all of them, not all the trees with red stripes on them, nope, just one, and I fail to see how an obvious paint job clearly covering an original red stripe is supposed to deter the woodsman, unless they’re thick and blind all at once. Then she takes the keys from a digger and throws them a whole twenty or so feet away… Wow, the woodsman won’t find those in five minutes will they? I’m all for saving the planet, but this movie wants to make itself worse by getting preachy? Get outta town!