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Pete's Dragon
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.39:1 Widescreen
  • 2.39:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English Dolby Digital 7.1 Surround
  • English DTS-HD 7.1 Surround
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • French subtitles
  • Spanish subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • Notes to Self: A Director's Diary
  • Making Magic
  • "Disappearing" Moments
  • Audio commentary with director David Lowery, co-writer Toby Halbrooks, and actors Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence

Pete's Dragon

Dual-Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: David Lowery
2016 | 103 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.99 | Series: Disney
Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Release Date: November 29, 2016
Review Date: November 28, 2016

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SYNOPSIS

When a mysterious 10-year-old boy, Pete, turns up, claiming to live in the woods with a giant green dragon, it's up to a forest ranger, Grace, and young Natalie to learn where the boy came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this magical dragon.


PICTURE

Walt Disney Pictures presents David Lowery’s remake of Pete’s Dragon on Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on a dual-layer disc, presented in 1080p/24hz high-definition.

The film was shot digitally so no surprise it translates incredibly well to Blu-ray. It is a surprisingly dark film but colours look really good, especially greens, which are very heavy in this film. Black levels are also decent, though I found shadow detail lacking at times.

Detail levels in general are still pretty good, delivering nice looking textures in both close-ups and long shots. Close-ups of the digital dragon are pretty impressive, though maybe more in terms of the artistry that went into it: the hairs on the creature are very distinct and clear, and that creature can look pretty lifelike... at times anyways. But despite that there is still a bit of a haze present in a number of shots, an almost foggy look that’s ever so subtle but there. It’s hard for me to determine whether it’s intentional or maybe a byproduct of something else (like the digital photography itself or something related to the process of compressing it for this release), but there are times where I felt something was just slightly out-of-focus and the image can lack depth. If it was intentional in places it does somewhat suit the film I guess, but it's still a bit off.

Since no film was involved there are no blemishes of note and there is also no film grain present. I also didn’t notice any other digital artifacts. So, all-in-all, it’s a pleasing presentation, about what you would expect from a newer film yet I guess I expected it to look a bit sharper and more distinct.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The film comes with a 7.1 DTS-HD MA surround track. I currently only have my system set up for 5.1, but even then it’s a nice track. In all quality is excellent, and both range and fidelity are terrific. The surrounds get a decent amount to do with the various more action-packed sequences or the scenes where the dragon is flying about, with decent splits and direction. Bass also has a bit to do, primarily during the climax. It’s a sharp presentation.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Disney includes quite a few supplements but most of them feel like either filler or advertisements. The 7-minute Notes to Self: A Director’s Diary is a quasi-making of featuring the director reading from what I assume is his blog (I checked it out quickly and it looks like he is repeating what is written there) over behind-the-scenes footage from the film, the most interesting footage probably being where we see the actors interacting with objects standing in for the dragon (like giant dragon balloons). This leads in to the next feature, Making Magic, a 2-minute feature about the film’s effects and the dragon, though it’s nowhere near in-depth and repeats a lot of footage from the previous feature. I was actually interested in the effects and the dragon design and to not really getting anything truly insightful on that subject is disappointing. These features are ultimately too brief and not very fulfilling. Since they’re neither very in-depth or terribly interesting I’m not sure who these features are targeted at.

Disney also throws in 9-minutes’ worth of deleted scenes under ”Disappearing” Moments. In the included commentary (which I’ll get to), director David Lowery mentions that scenes weren’t deleted, just moments, and that’s pretty much we get here in this montage, with some moments mentioned in that track included here. There is then a minute-and-a-half’s worth of bloopers, which consist primarily of mugging, line mess-ups, and just general silliness, most of it from Karl Urban. We then get a couple of music videos, including ones for The Lumineers’ ”Nobody Knows” and Lindsey Stirling’s ”Something Wild.” We then get a 2-minute advertisement for New Zealand (where the film was shot) under Welcome to New Zealand.

After a lot of filler the only feature of real note is the audio commentary featuring director/co-writer David Lowery, co-writer Toby Halbrooks, and actors Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence. It starts out a little irritatingly, coming off really cutesy, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get through it, but it settles down a bit and gets better. There isn’t a lot about pre-production, or why Lowery felt he needed to make this film, but there is a lot of discussion about the production itself, with Lowery and Fegley (who apparently loses a tooth as during the track) taking up most of the time talking about working with props to stand-in for the dragon, or sharing tales about the children training for certain stunts (surprisingly they did a lot of it themselves), or what it was like shooting in New Zealand’s schizophrenic environment (it sounds as though it was either too hot or too cold from day to day). Lowery also likes to joke around with his young co-stars a bit: early on Lowery asks his young actors if they’ve seen Bryce Dallas Howard’s other films, and they mention Jurassic World and The Help, neither of which is surprising. Lowery then fully recommends that they should check out Manderlay, which receives a puzzled response. It has its fun moments but there are a few things that end up making this release even more frustrating since it sounds like there was a lot of material that could have been added to this release to make it more interesting. Just as an example there was a moment where Lowery asked his effects crew to have a rock digitally inserted and, as a lark, they put Dwayne Johnson into a shot. Also, there is apparently this amazing Robert Redford blooper that they talk about a few times but don’t actually explain, other than to say they are not allowed to include it on the disc. That stuff would have been fun, as would have more material on the effects they talk about, but, of course, why do that when you can just put ads on the disc? I’m actually surprised we got a commentary to be honest, and thankfully it’s a half-decent one.

A Disney release featuring a mention of Lars von Trier certainly gets some bonus points from me, but other than that track (which is decent enough) the features feel fairly aimless and unsatisfying, especially when there sounds to be some entertaining material out there.

4/10

CLOSING

The features aren’t particularly exciting, despite a decent commentary, but the presentation is nice enough, if a tad bit hazy at times.




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