Written by Ben Beck
Take the original Pete's Dragon; remove the sing-a-longs, update the dragon and increase the emotion and you've got a new and updated take on the original Disney classic. It's a wonderful update that will fill your hearts and have you believing in dragons.
Pete's Dragon is a reimagining of the original 1977 Disney classic of the same name and is an adventure of a young boy left orphan in the woods of the Pacific Northwest but happens to make a new friend named Elliot along the way... who, oh yeah, is a large green dragon. The film stars Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World, The Help), Wes Bentley (American Beauty, The Hunger Games), Karl Urban (Star Trek, Lord of the Rings), Oscar winner Robert Redford (A River Runs Through It, Quiz Show) and Oakes Fegley (This is Where I Leave You) as Pete.
I have to start by saying that the original Pete's Dragon is one of my all time favorite Disney live action films. I grew up watching it, singing along and still remember the first time I ever saw that movie. So the idea of a reboot of a film that is so beloved to me is a conflicting thought. I love new movies and feel some movies rightfully deserve to be updated... but is this one of them? Should I see it and if I do, will it ruin my memory of the original? The answers....Yes, Yes and HELL NO! If anything, seeing this recreation of the film caused me to relive the wonderment I had all over again. If you were with me in theaters, you may have even seen a tear or two come out from under those 3D glasses, but I will swear that it was just someone cutting onions in the theater... hey that's my story and I'm sticking to it!
The CGI creation of Elliot the dragon along with the star studded cast of this film great elements that really draw the audience into the theaters to see this film, but the movie as a whole really stands out, especially when it comes to the cinematography of the picture. The setting of the Pacific Northwest wooded area is an area with breathtaking views when seen in person and the creators of the film really do a great job in capturing those views for the screen. But the cast I just mentioned cannot be ignored. Every member of the cast, from Howard's mother-like figure all the way to Urban and his protagonist ways, are very warm. While some may seem a little underutilized at times, the ensemble plays very well together. And Oakes Fegley, who is still a relative newcomer when it comes to acting in feature films, really sells the character of Pete and portrays very well the reactions of someone who is returning to civilization for the first time in years. And yes, while we all know full well that Elliot isn't real (*sob*), his interactions with the lovable dragon really make you believe that he is. My biggest fear going into this film however was Robert Redford taking the place of the Mickey Rooney-like character in the story. Rooney portrayed that character so well in the original that it would be hard to replace him. But much to my surprise, Redford was an absolute delight and with the exception of the two main characters of Pete and his dragon, provides a great amount of the heart that this film is bursting with.
Do you have to have seen the original 1977 Pete's Dragon in order to enjoy this film? Not at all (although I still recommend it) as this film definitely stands out on it's own. The story is similar to the original purely as to pay it's respects, but the modern retelling with updates to the tale make complete sense and this film really stands out as a film that, while from a major studio like Disney, still has the heart and emotion of a smaller, independent film.
Kids will love this film and I can almost guarantee that adults will too. It's a Brazzle Dazzle retelling for all ages to enjoy and I highly recommend it!
OFFICIAL RATING 8 out of 10