The film opens in 2011, with a father named Michael (Jason Isaacs) taking his sons to see the original Red Dog. While disinterested at first, when the movie starts, something hits him. It hits him hard, stirring up emotions deep inside. When he gets home, he explains to his kids that Red Dog was, many years back, his dog. He was the dog’s first owner, and from here, we watch as Red Dog’s origins play out on screen, Michael now played by the young Levi Miller. He’s sent off to live in the outback with his grandpa (Bryan Brown), getting tutored by a young woman named Betty (Hanna Mangan Lawrence), and throughout, we watch as he bonds with Red Dog and forms his first real friendship.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot else to love when it comes to this movie. It has a few fun moments, mostly thanks to Red Dog (or Blue, as he’s called in this movie). The entire film is 90 minutes of disconnected, unrelated character beats, none of which have any flow. Some of them can be a lot of fun, whereas others drag out the pace drastically. It feels more like an extended montage than an actual movie, with very little characterization and a plot that’s completely non-existent. It has some good ideas, but the filmmakers aren’t able to get it to work as a cohesive, linear movie.
While a lot of the actors in this movie are actually decent actors, none of them were good enough to salvage the dialogue, and henceforth their performances do feel wooden from time to time. Australian actor Levi Miller was fine in last year’s Pan, but his performance there is amazing in comparison to what it is in Red Dog: True Blue. He certainly tries, and the third act does manage to get a pretty good performance out of him, but everything else is very, very forced. There’s a few scenes involving a mysterious rock in a cave, and the acting and writing in these scenes were truly horrendous.
To sum up, Red Dog: True Blue is an unnecessary and uninteresting prequel to an iconic Australian family movie. It’s a bland and forgettable movie, the performances and writing both below average. I’ve heard mumblings of a third movie. If this is to be the case, I seriously hope it doesn’t go ahead. There’s no more story that needs to be told, fictitious or not.