There’s backbone to spare in this superior family film aimed at the type of kids who like a wee splash of Scotch on their cornflakes. The classic ‘Free Willy’ animal/child union-of-souls template is neatly transposed (with added grit) to the Highlands circa World War II, where young Angus MacMorrow (Alex Etel, last seen in Danny Boyle’s ‘Millions’) discovers a crystalline egg on a local beach.
What hatches is a cutesy dragon-like creature he names Crusoe that rapidly expands to the size of a lorry and has to be re-housed in the local loch. When a platoon of soldiers stationed in Angus’s home mistake Crusoe for an enemy sub, this pleasingly non-ironic yarn expands into an angry window on the brutal, inflexible nature of the military. But what pushes the film above its peers is the way that director Jay Russell – like Spielberg – only resorts to syrup when he can fully justify it.