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    Pete's Dragon

    Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 123 mins . G . PAL


    A heartwarming musical adventure?

    I feel unwarmed. Disney musicals are generally pretty painful for adults, and this one doesn't even have the saving grace of being animated. Oh sure, some of it is (and nicely, by the legendary Don Bluth), but most of the film is taken up with extremely hammy acting from Mickey Rooney, who doesn't seem to think that children can follow a plot unless he's exaggerating every movement.

    The Pete of the title is a young orphan who has a pet dragon, called Elliott. Fair enough. So he and his dragon wind up in a fishing village where they're taken in by Rooney's character, and his daughter, who run a lighthouse. They all sing a lot, and Elliott gets Pete into trouble most of the time, and people shout, "A DRAGON!" quite a bit too.

    Yes, it's harmless enough, but I think kids have advanced a bit from 1977. Surely most youngsters would rather be watching Terminator 2?


    Okay, first off, Disney haven't seen fit to give us a widescreen release of the film which is quite inexcusable, but worse, the transfer is really poor. Colour is strange and artificial, the picture is very soft and close examination of your screen will reveal a lot of MPEG artifacting due to a very low bitrate. Considering the length of the film and the fact that there are no extras, I can only attribute this to incompetence or a lack of interest on the encoder's behalf. Of course, it's hard to encode well when the source print has more scratches than your average hip hop album.


    Not good. Considering the age of the elements, the sound isn't horrific, but it distorts when it gets loud and while some scenes exhibit obvious stereo separation, most songs collapse to mono when Pro-Logic is engaged.

    Dialogue is occasionally natural, but more often distractingly looped and slightly out of synch during musical numbers. This isn't a player problem but is inherent in the film.


    Ah, no. You don't even get the extra languages promised on the packaging, let alone extra features!


    Not a great Disney film, and a fairly abysmal DVD from Buena Vista. Slapped wrists all round, I'd say.

    Buy A Bug's Life instead. At least Disney took some care with that disc, even if we don't get all the wonderful extras available on the US special edition.

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