Walt Disney Pictures presents the remake Pete’s Dragon for 2016 starring Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World) as Grace, Karl Urban (Star Trek Into Darkness) as Gavin, Robert Redford (Captain America Winter Soldier) as Grace’s father, Wes Bentley (American Beauty) as Jack, Oakes Fegley (Southpaw) as Pete and Oona Laurence (Person of Interest) as Natalie. The film is directed by David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) whom also co-wrote the screenplay with Toby Halbrooks.
The film begins with five year old Pete on a holiday with his parents. While driving down the road near a forest, a deer runs across their vehicle. Pete’s father swerves to avoid hitting the deer and the vehicle crashes. That’s right, this story begins with a tragedy. Five year old Pete climbs out of the car wreck and wanders into the woods all alone. Pete is chased by wolves but just before something horrible happens, something magical happens. A big green dragon comes out from the deep woods. The dragon scares away the wolves but not Pete. Five year old Pete stares the dragon in the face and asks if it is going to eat him. Like a giant puppy, the dragon shakes his head and guffaws. Six years later Pete and the dragon are best friends. They frolic through the woods together, sleep together, fly together, they are everything to each other.
Meanwhile, the forest around them is being cut down by a lumber company owned by Jack (Wes Bentley). Doing her best to protect the woods, Grace (Park Ranger and fiancée to Jack) treks through the forest marking trees that are inhabited by wildlife. One day, Grace encounters Gavin (Jack’s brother) leading a team of tree cutters deep in the woods. While arguing with Gavin, they spot Pete. Curious and concerned how a boy survived so long in the forest by himself, they bring Pete into town. Pete’s dragon awakens from a nap and, when he recognizes Pete is gone, heads out to find his only friend.
Pete’s Dragon is the kind of kid’s film seen too rarely these days: optimistic and loving. Modern films are filled with sarcasm and dry wit, and while they may contain genuine emotional moments, they lack the charm of the kinds of films made 20-30 years ago. This is likely why the current Pete’s Dragon is not set in modern days. When you watch the screen you will notice a lack of cell phones, an abundance of vehicles produced from the 70’s, and even the clothes are generic and functional as opposed to being based on a particular trend. If not for the amazing effects used to bring the dragon to life, and the casting of modern stars like Bryce Dallas Howard and Karl Urban, you could believe this film was made 20-30 years ago. That kind of ambience makes Pete’s Dragon feel timeless.
While the entire cast performs their roles wonderfully, the real star is the dragon. Bright green and furry like a dog, the dragon, named Elliot, is not like the ferocious creatures seen in Game of Thrones; Elliot is playful and unintimidating. Elliot strikes awe and wonder conveying a sense of magic every time he is on the screen. He has a lot of personality as well, sure to be a big hit with small children. Be warned though, the film has many tear worthy scenes, mostly surrounding the love shared between Pete and Elliot.
Rated PG, Pete’s Dragon is a magical and charming film that is enjoyable for the youngest of children and will make adult audiences nostalgic for their own childhood.
Be sure to run out to see it in theatres today! Also check out this fun DIY that Bryce Dallas Howard did for some adorable dragon cupcakes!
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