My Father’s Dragon review: Animated adventure soars high

Netflix’s ‘My Father’s Dragon’ is an animated comedy-drama about a boy named Elmer, who travels to a mysterious place known as Wild Island. There, he decides to help Boris the dragon to save the landmass from sinking.

The film is an adaptation of the 1948 children’s novel of the same name by Ruth Stiles Gannett.

Story

The plot follows little Elmer and his mom Dela, who run a retail store that goes bankrupt. They are forced to move to the city of Nevergreen for new prospects. Elmer is distraught with the move, but Dela promises him that they will start a new business soon. 

Their new apartment is tiny and the landlady is strict. Elmer befriends and feeds a stray cat but is worried about his mother getting stressed over time.

She uses all their remaining change in a phone booth, replying to job advertisements, but doesn’t get any. Elmer is devastated at this sight and runs away from home.

He escapes the congested city streets and reaches the harbour. The cat follow him and speaks to him. Elmer is shocked but the feline offers a solution to his problems.

The cat shares the story of a dragon that waits in a place known as Wild Island. If Elmer can get the beast back with him to the city, he can use it to earn money and help Dela.

He hitches a ride to Wild Island upon a friendly whale named Soda, who is the cat’s friend. There, he finds out that the dragon, Boris, is a sweet and loving youngling who must save the island from sinking to complete a rite of passage.

Elmer agrees to help Boris if he comes to the city and help him earn money after.

Performances

The voice-acting in My Father’s Dragon is sublime. The cast includes the likes of Jacob Tremblay (Elmer), Gaten Matarazzo (Boris), Whoopi Goldberg (The cat), Ian McShane (Saiwa), Dianne Wiest (Iris), Judy Greer (Soda), and Alan Cumming (Cornelius), among others.

These renowned actors voice their characters exceptionally well and succeed in emotionally connecting with the audience with their moving performances.

Positives

The Irish animation studio, Cartoon Saloon, passes with flying colours. My Father’s Dragon is beautifully crafted, with the colours, character designs and textures, being the stand out. The music is also an added layer of immersion and enhances the viewing experience.

The hand-drawn 2d animation has a brilliant aesthetic to it, that has been missing from modern animation. The makers do a fantastic job in stylising the film, and create a distinct difference between the chaotic city and the vibrant wild.

The film talks about accepting adversity and normalises not having all the answers in tough times. Elmer’s character is an apt vessel for expressing this sentiment. Meanwhile, Boris’s rite of passage is the perfect example of overcoming adversity as well.

My Father’s Dragon presents very important life lessons, which are bound to sway the younger audience. However, people of all ages will feel an emotional tug and may take away something from it.

Negatives

There isn’t much to say in this area, except criticising the plot structure a bit. Boris and Elmer’s allegedly perilous journey feels a bit drawn-out and repetitive.

The obstacles they face are pretty much animals trying to get them back to Saiwa, over and over again. Perhaps some other dangers that weren’t associated with saving the island would have added more adventure to the plot.

Verdict

My Father’s Dragon is a must watch for people of all ages. It shares some important messages via its versatile characters and is a visual treat.

My Father's Dragon
My Father's Dragon review: Animated adventure soars high 1

Director: Nora Twomey

Date Created: 2022-11-12 11:08

Editor's Rating:
4

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