David Lowery -- the filmmaker who gave us Ain't Them Bodies Saints -- my initial thought was him?! Well, "him" has done simply a splendid job of making a kids' movie that adults may love even more than the children they accompany to the theater. Within the first few minutes of the movie, Lowery shows he is perfectly in command of story and style, giving us a loss so fraught in such a beautiful, sad and delicate manner, you'll be holding your breath, first in shock and then in wonderment.
Bambi (and that, of course, involved anthropomorphized animals as stand-ins). From loss we go almost immediately to the wonder, and Lowery (at left) and his team have created a dragon so special and amazing (note his chipped tooth/fang, below) that he'll be a keeper in yours and your kids' minds probably as long as you are able to retain any movie memories. The decision to give the big guy fur instead of scales help turn him into a kind of precious pet.
Oakes Fegley (above, right), adorable and winning as Pete; and Oona Laurence (above, left), who was so amazing in Lamb -- and both excel.
Robert Redfrord (above, center), as the old codger who once had a run-in with this same dragon, and Bryce Dallas Howard (above, left) as the helpful forest ranger,
Wes Bentley (above, left) and Karl Urban (above, right) as a pair of good/bad brothers who provide help/harm to our heroes little and big.
Toby Halbrooks, never talks down to either the kids or us adults. You can sit back and drink it all in without fear of being somehow "reduced." This is how to make a children's film gleam and resonate; one hopes that it proves a kind of model for a new direction in Disney live action.
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