“My Father’s Dragon” - Movie Review
Sometimes, when faced with a problem ironically it is best to do nothing and gain clarity via a walk through the woods, a hike through a mountain, or in the case of “My Father’s Dragon” a ride on a whale to a magical island to save a dragon named Boris (Gaten Matarazzo).
Available on Netflix and Directed by Nora Twomey, “My Father’s Dragon” adapts and animates the tale of young Elmer (Jacob Tremblay) on his quest to reopen his mother’s store after it was shut down to economic recession.
Elmer’s dream of recreating what he had before proves near impossible because he now lives in a city in which everyone is struggling. But then he meets a talking cat (Whoopi Goldberg) who tells the lad the answer to his dilemma lies in saving Boris on a sinking island.
Though it is an adaptation of a children’s book, it most certainly is not child exclusive. The movie does not dumb down any of its surprisingly heavy themes of loss, sacrifice for the greater good, and lying to protect oneself and others.
These themes manifest in all of the characters who reflect distinctly human aspects of self-preservation, like Elmer’s mother desperately trying to keep her son happy as she breaks under the pressure of losing everything.
Other dark moments include scenes of the animals distraught over narrowly escaping drowning or losing their homes entirely. These scenes evoke genuine sympathy from viewers both old and young. The actions of Elmer and Boris carry weight that impact everyone they have met and will meet.
While most of the characters and their relationships subtly build on the world, the relationship between the two leads comes off as the weakest part of the film. Boris, being a bit of an airhead, grates and contrasts the serious Elmer. Until, about two thirds of the way in where they become best friends quite literally overnight.
The abrupt development of their relationship does hamper one of their final emotional acts, as it feels like they ran out of run time to create a true emotional high. It speeds to the finish and while it does not wreck the whole movie, it is noticeable when everything else is quite well told.
While the quality of the context surrounding the emotional climax sinks with the island, the deliveries from Tremblay and Matarazzo save the scene. It may even bring some viewers to tears as they hear the regret and anguish in Tremblay and the pain and bravery in Matarazzo. It saves an otherwise sub par scene with beautiful acting and animation.
Arguably the most appealing aspect of the film is the living story book animation. The fantastical forests of the islands vibrate with color just as the concrete jungles of Nevergreen city emit gray and blue splashes of detail.
Animal character designs are imaginative and expressive creating a lovely juxtaposition between their appearance and strikingly human personalities. Together, the two pieces force the audience to fall in love with the likes of Boris and Tamir (Jackie Earle Haley).
“My Father’s Dragon” may be a kids movie, but adults will find as much as kids do in this gorgeous moving picture book. Viewers wanting something a touch different than a true crime documentary or need to cleanse their palate of “The Watcher” can find a wonderful afternoon relieving child-like wonder.
Luca Miceli is a first year student majoring in telecommunications. To contact him please email email@example.com.
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