Pete’s Dragon is the 2016 remake of the 1977 musical, live-action/animated film of the same name, both of which were produced by Disney. Written by David Lowery and directed by Lowery and Tony Halbrook, the film stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence and Robert Redford.
“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.
This movie, oddly enough, reminds me of last year’s Room; both feature a little boy who grew up isolated from the outside world and is then thrust into it and has to adjust. Obviously the two films are very different but that was one area of similarity I found.
I 100% did not get the story I expected I would at all. I didn’t know much of anything about the film going into it. But judging from the title I had certain expectations and it really didn’t go where I thought that it would. That doesn’t hurt the film in any way, however. It’s just different. The story I did get, though, was pretty predictable; you can see almost exactly how it will unfold and moments that are supposed to leave you guessing have no tension at all.
I also found it rather strange that Pete mentioned Elliot a good few times after being found, but no one really took it as seriously as I thought they should have. For all they knew Elliot was another little boy trapped in the woods that needed rescuing. They didn’t really do anything about it.
Bryce Dallas Howard and Oakes Fegley were the two standouts in the film (which is appropriate given that they are the leads). I bought their emotions and the budding relationship between Grace and Pete. Howard does a very good job of making the audience trust her character and Fegley really embodies Pete’s fearless, direct and earnest nature.
I didn’t feel much chemistry between Bryce Dallas Howard and West Bentley. Their relationship was not as developed as it could have been and Bentley’s character, Jack, is forgettable and Bentley himself doesn’t really do much with the role and is kind of just there.
Karl Urban’s character Gavin, was not very authentic. The way he behaved coming on to the end of the film did make sense in the situation and the film did show the audience why he was acting the way he was, but it still came off as almost cartoonish and it’s a bit too much. However this assessment may be based on the fact that as the viewer, I was privy to more information than he was.
Elliot is cute and lovable but it felt like I didn’t get to spend that much time with him or really get to see and learn more about his relationship with Pete. It is established to some extent in the beginning of the film but I feel like they could have delved into it a bit more. Nevertheless, their bond was sweet to watch.
Pete’s Dragon is a very enjoyable movie that is well made, with lead characters that you can identify with and a core relationship that pulls at your heartstrings. Although a little iffy in the middle, especially during the last act, it pulls itself together in the last few minutes to deliver an ending that is heartwarming and uplifting.