Disney has given us another one. Another film in the Disney animated vault and gave it the live action treatment. Well the original Pete’s Dragon was half live action with an animated Dragon and was a full musical. But now since we’re in 2016 ,Disney will strip all these elements away and give us a fresh new take on a not so classic story.
In 1982, forest ranger Grace Meacham (Bryce Dallas Howard) comes across a young boy (Oakes Fegley) who lived in the woods for six years with a mysterious dragon named Elliott. With help from her wood-carver father (Robert Redford) and Natalie (Oona Laurence), the daughter of lumber mill owner Jack (Wes Bentley), Grace sets out to find out Pete's identity and the truth about Elliott while Gavin (Karl Urban), Jack's brother and Natalie's uncle, plans to capture Elliott.
First off, thank God for 2016 and the CG effects we’re able to create. If Walt Disney was bought back from the grave to see the effects we have adapting animated features like The Jungle Book and this, he would be so overjoyed he’ll have a heart attack and die again. The effects that brings Elliot to life in this film is amazing. He’s furry and green, and doesn’t have the stupid orange hair like he did in 1977. There is a great design to make Elliot look like a real dragon and this is thanks to Weta Digital. The visual effects studio behind Lord of the Rings did these effects for this dragon and of course its phenomenal.
The only thing this story has to do with 1977’s Pete’s Dragon is both the name and the characters names of Pete and Elliot. It’s as if the writers looked back at the original and said yeah lets change this up….a lot. This is a new story that doesn’t have to live up to the original like previous live action entries Disney gave us, because this lives on its own. It has a lot of nature set pieces with a very somber yet heartwarming tone. This can pretty much be a double feature with this year’s Jungle Book because of how close those elements are. The characters are genuinely good characters that are easy to follow. No they don’t have much depth to them, but for a movie like this we don’t need more depth than it already has. This movie is really about the bond of a boy and his dragon who are both lost in the world.
Families will dig the hell out of this movie. It has a lot of heart in the right places. Really good performances that doesn’t go over the top or too cheesy. Its just right. The 3D visuals add a lot more beautiful flight experience with Elliot and Pete. But for the most part, this is one of those family films that takes you back to your old youth where you used to watch films that makes you feel like a kid again. For adults, this movie will play more like E.T. For me, this felt like the Iron Giant. There were so many elements that made me think of the Iron Giant from the forest scenery to the pre cell phones and digital television times that pretty much make this a timeless film. And of course the same amount of rage they take on on the humans when the STUPID HUMANS KEEP PROVOKING THESE THINGS WITH VIOLENCE AND BAD JUDGEMENT BECAUSE THEY’RE DIFFERENT FROM US! Sorry that was the kid in me talking. As I said this film will bring out the kid in you.
There’s a lot of questioning from this film. I know its a family film, but there are some things that just makes your mind ponder. Such as where did Elliot come from. If dragons are real, where did they come from. And when you think its just one dragon that you can gloss over the film pulls something at end which makes you scream out the question “WHERE DO DRAGONS COME FROM?!”
The cast is good and though they don’t need any dimension, there has to be some for the antagonist who is Karl Urban. Karl Urban who is charismatic and shows humor in a majority of other films, is just a guy who wants to capture Elliot. And when he does he doesn’t know what the hell to do with him and of course the other protagonists don’t try to stop him. He’s related to Wes Bentley, one of the good guys in the film and he and Bryce Dallas Howard don’t even try to stop him until the third act has to come in. It was a lot of confusion going on but hey it’s a Disney film right?
Stripped of everything the original was except of the title, Disney's Pete’s Dragon improves with everything the original wasn’t. It is a perfect family film with the right amount of brilliant visuals and heartwarming storytelling to keep everyone young and old alike entertained.