Disney for the Holidays

The BFG and Pete’s Dragon

Blu-ray Reviews

by Scott MacDonald

As we enter into the 2016 holiday season, Disney has graced the home video buying public with 2 of their late in the year finest releases on Blu-ray. Steven Spielberg’s THE BFG and adaptation of the Roald Dahl book of the same name, and Pete’s Dragon the fifth remake that Disney has undertaken of one of their prior classics.

The BFG

Director– Steven Speilberg

Starring – Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill

Country of Origin- U.S.

Discs- 1

Reviewer- Scott MacDonald

 

   Steven Spielberg’s latest film The BFG is an adaptation of the children’s novel, by classic writer Roald Dahl. The film stars Ruby Barnhill has Sophie an insomniac little orphan girl who spends her sleepless nights doing little things around her orphanage to pass the long nights. The one thing she does not do is look out the window, as there are apparently consequences for doing so. One night she does look at the window, and sees a giant, who in turn sees her. This giant kidnaps Sophie, and takes her to “Giant Country”. Fortunately, for Sophie this isn’t a mean giant, but a Big Friendly Giant.  The pair will work together to stop the nasty cannibal giants from doing nasty things to those around them.

   I feel there is a severe conflict of interest between the writing of Roald Dahl, and the films of Steven Spielberg. Unless the film is historical in nature, Spielberg tends to show films from an overtly positive light. Roald Dahl’s work comes from a place of darkness, yes these are children’s books, but they are not safe and fluffy children’s books, and while there is darkness within the story and the movie. I feel like it could have been more under another director. That being said as a simple family film The BFG works. It has wonderful and charming visuals, and the performances are solid. I can see children thoroughly enjoying this, especially those not too familiar with the source material.

   The Blu-ray presents the film in a 2:39:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer that preserves the OAR. Everything looks excellent here, but that is to be expected. The sound is presented in an English DTS-HD MA 7.1 track, that is similarly excellent. There are a number of extras here, relating to the making of the film, the world with which it is set, and some interview pieces. Also of note is a tribute piece to Melissa Matheson.

 

The Film (3.5/5)

Audio/Video (4.5/5)

Extras (3/5)

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Pete’s Dragon

Director– David Lowery

Starring – Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley

Country of Origin- U.S.

Discs- 1

Reviewer- Scott MacDonald

 

     Disney has been knocking it out of the park with their recent slate of remakes of their existing classics. Now we have a case where Disney is remaking a film that was very good, and quite memorable for its time. The original, however, is by far not a classic by any metric one can throw at it, unless we use age as a metric for quality.

   Pete’s Dragon 2016 like it’s predecessor is not a film I could see being a classic, but it is very very good, and like the recent slate of Disney remake choose to go to a tonally different place then its nearly 40 year old counterpart. The film opens with a car wreck, Pete is a 4 year old boy who is left orphaned when his parents die in an accident. Pete is then attacked by wolves in a nearly forest, before he is saved by a dragon he names Elliott after his favorite book. The story picks up 6 years later, the forest the pair live in is threatened by developers, and Pete is discovered. This threatens the life the pair have developed, and also Elliott’s safety.

     Pete’s Dragon is a gorgeously made, emotionally powerful family film. It takes the threads that existed from the original, and used them to create something interesting and unique with the material. The performances all around from Redford, to Howard are fantastic, and the melancholy visuals are truly outstanding. It’s almost like Malick in family form.

   Disney presents Pete’s Dragon in a 2:39:1 AVC encoded tranfer that looks quite excellent. We have stable, and well represented colors, deep blacks, and excellent fine detail. The audio is presented DTS-HD MA 7.1 and everything sounds fine here as well. Extras incuding a video diary and commentary with director Lowery, facts about the film, music videos, deleted scenes, and more.

 

The Film (4/5)

Audio/Video (4.5/5)

Extras (3.5/5)