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It is reassuring to see more and more family-oriented films being issued without everyone having to rely on the Disney and Pixar folks to carry all the weight. That said, it would have been interesting to see what Disney might have done with this story. In the end, I would highly recommend this for family viewing - it has laughs, thrills, beautiful scenery, and a heartwarming storyline that offers opportunities for family discussion.
As with most things, there are good and bad sides to this film. On the plus side, the acting is above-par by all the actors(the adult male leads look startlingly like a young Liam Neeson and a Gaelic Antonio Banderas), the location footage is gorgeous, the period "feels right", and the title namesake is very well executed and most believable. Major kudos to the special effects teams, they did a magnificent job.
On the downside, the denouement is telegraphed well in advance and comes as no surprise, and there are some unanswered questions and several plot lines end without resolution. I have a feeling a "directors cut" would probably restore studio-mandated cuts and resolve these issues. The Director, Jay Russell, has helmed other very successful films (including a little-known but personal favorite "End of the Line") which were also obviously "fiddled with" by studio decree. Such is the business of film-making.
In the end, I greatly enjoyed this film, and plan to add it to my vast collection when it is released for home viewing.
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