When Julie was a child her mom would have been smart to invest in a VHS copy of Pete's Dragon. Instead week after week she requested the same movie from the video rental shop, so needless to say it must have been a favorite. When we saw previews of this updated version it seemed quite different, so we decided to go check it out.
Official film synopsis:
A reimagining of Disney’s cherished family film, “Pete’s Dragon” is the adventure of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon. “Pete’s Dragon” stars Bryce Dallas Howard (“Jurassic World”), Oakes Fegley (“This is Where I Leave You”), Wes Bentley (“The Hunger Games”), Karl Urban (“Star Trek”), Oona Laurence (“Southpaw”), Isiah Whitlock, Jr. (“Cedar Rapids”) and Oscar® winner Robert Redford (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”). The film, which is directed by David Lowery (“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”), is written by Lowery & Toby Halbrooks based on a screenplay by Malcolm Marmorstein and produced by Jim Whitaker (“The Finest Hours,” “Friday Night Lights”), with Barrie M. Osborne (“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Great Gatsby”) serving as executive producer.
For years, old wood carver Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford) has delighted local children with his tales of the fierce dragon that resides deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. To his daughter, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), who works as a forest ranger, these stories are little more than tall tales...until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley). Pete is a mysterious 10-year-old with no family and no home who claims to live in the woods with a giant, green dragon named Elliot. And from Pete’s descriptions, Elliot seems remarkably similar to the dragon from Mr. Meacham’s stories. With the help of Natalie (Oona Laurence), an 11-year- old girl whose father Jack (Wes Bentley) owns the local lumber mill, Grace sets out to determine where Pete came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this dragon. Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon” opens in U.S. theaters on August 12, 2016.
I haven’t seen the original so I don’t have that to compare but from what I understand, this version is nothing like the original. The movie does a good job of providing the viewer with a range of emotions, while being very entertaining.
The way the producers show the various emotions of Elliot (the dragon) is outstanding, as those watching know exactly how he is feeling. He more resembles a friendly family dog than a dragon, which makes him easy to root for. Visually, he and the rest of the movie was very well done.
Pete’s Dragon has a good flow and never slows down. It seems they dabbled with going in certain directions (action, adventure, drama, comedy) but never really made it clear which it should be considered as it had a little bit of everything.
The film does a good job of getting a few story plot lines across without going too far for the younger audience. For example, the opening of the movie depicts a horrific car crash but does it in a way that the audience clearly knows what is going on while takeing most of the violence out of it. Shortly afterward, when Pete meets Elliot, it is clear that this should probably be a scary encounter but the movie does a good job of showing Pete overcoming what is depicted to be a scary dragon.
I have to say this film really is nothing like the original except for having a dragon and an orphan. But I think I’m ok with that. I’m glad they left the old fashioned charm and musical routines to the original and took a different approach. This film was simple in a way, depending on the beauty of nature as a backdrop and a handful of relationships to develop. The thing was there was something lovely about that, you really started to care about the characters, even the large furry CGI beast. Elliott was adorable and really seemed like an overgrown dog. You could tell he seemed real as some little kids started freaking out in the theater when he was being threatened but the antagonist.
The story touched on themes of loneliness, friendship and family and believing in magic. I thought this movie was delightful and I enjoyed the 90 minutes of being transported into a quiet little town with a big secret dragon hiding in the woods. While we saw it in 3D I don’t think you necessarily need to. Despite approximately two minutes of flying scenes it really didn’t warrant it.
This movie is best for: renting from the video store week after week...just kidding! Go take the nieces and nephews to see it on the big screen.
Official movie site: www.disney.com/petesdragon