You are asking why Pete’s Dragon? Green, you don’t do movie reviews? I have yet to hear your thoughts on Civil War, never mind Pete’s Dragon, of all the movies that have come out this summer? Well, bare with me, my father, or Grampa as he is more affectionately known in our house, surprised the kidlits with premiere tickets. A rare, but fun surprise, the last premiere I attended was last summers surprise hit, Ant-Man. Well I am a blogger now, and these premieres are intentionally for critics, reviewers, and getting that word of mouth out there. Thus I will fulfill that duty as a blogger and share with you my thoughts on Pete’s Dragon (2016).
This modern version of Pete’s Dragon takes a major turn from it’s source film. The 1977 film Pete’s Dragon was a musical, comedic, journey of a kid and his dragon, Elliot, causing a ruckus in a small fishing town. The 2016 remake has next to no connection with that film, sharing only name and dragon, whom is a loose rendering of its goofy original. To be fair, this retelling does feature orphan boy, Pete, but of a much different origin. Losing his parents, Pete is saved and protected by the fantastic dragon, Elliot. Pete and his dragon survive hidden in the forest for years, when a local family, and small town discover the young orphan. The film follows Pete’s heartfelt struggle as he must choose between best friend Elliot or a chance at a new life with a loving family.
Throughout the film I was searching for genre, confused as to what the core elements were. It is not fantasy, one dragon does not equal fantasy, not an adventure, this is a film about friendship, mostly a boy and his dog tale. Multiple times the film missed opportunities to add a plot of man vs. wild, magical wonder or environmental impact. Skimming over those chances, and focusing on the friendship element left the film one dimensional. All said and done, the story acts and feels like an old American folk tale, which isn’t an awful thing, I just needed more depth.
Again, with character development, it seems another boat was missed. Clare, played by talented and stunning Bryce Dallas Howard, had next to no challenge or growth. Oakes Fegley plays title character Pete, doing a great job with a character that is difficult to interpret. Elliot shines through, entertaining, whimsical and is fantastic looking, leave it to Disney to make the most cuddly dragon, ever. There should be no kid leaving that theatre that isn’t dreaming of having a dragon for themselves. Heck, I want a dragon, but that’s nothing new.
Pete’s Dragon may have some structure issues, but overall it is a wholesome, heartfelt, entertaining film. Zyler and Alex were both happy, and even Grampa enjoyed it. There is a sweet simplicity that leaves you with a warm feeling when the movie is done. I cannot bring myself to give Pete’s Dragon higher than 2.5/5, for the film could have been so much more. I recommend taking the kids, they will fall for Elliot, and love every scene the lovable green dragon appears.
Thanks booknerds, that’s a wrap on the movie review that reads like a book review.