Movie Review: Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Starring: Oakes Fegley, Bryce Dallas Howard and Robert Redford

Directed by: David Lowery

Pete and his parents are on an adventure when the car crashes and Pete is left stranded in the forest. Alone and scared a five year old Pete befriends a dragon he calls Elliot. They are inseparable as they spend years living in secrecy together deep in the forest until Pete is found by local ranger Grace and everything changes.

Nearly forty years after the initial release of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon came the remake which dropped its musical sing a long style story and went for more of an emotional adventure. The story is different but kind of follows a similar pattern to the original version but the one striking difference is the appearance of Elliot the dragon. Obviously 39 years have passed so there wasn’t the CGI available at the time and although it’s a Disney movie the original didn’t appear to have a substantial budget to make Elliot look any better than what he was. The original Elliot looked like something a young child would draw if you asked them to draw you a friendly dragon whereas the new and improved Elliot looked more like a dragon despite acting like a dopey dog who just wanted to play. He was very visually pleasing and for me was the best character in the movie as he was a big giant softie who just wanted to play with Pete and keep him safe. The emotional connection between Pete and Elliot was fantastically well portrayed as they needed each other more than they knew.

One of the main things which was greatly improved from the first Pete’s Dragon movie was the child actor who played Pete. The first saw a young child called Sean Marshall cast and in all honesty he was awful. I found him extremely annoying and he was one of the main reasons why I couldn’t enjoy the movie as much as I would’ve liked to. However, this time round Oakes Fegley was cast and he was so much better to watch. Fegley has more charm and natural wit about him and he’s able to display a great range of emotion which was an ability that Sean Marshall lacked. Oakes Fegley was also joined on screen by a rather impressive and experienced cast as it featured the likes of Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Karl Urban and Wes Bentley. Each of these actors played their roles well as Pete’s tragic story is played out.

One of the main story arcs I didn’t like in this movie was when Karl Urban’s character and a bunch of his work buddy’s, who were lumberjacks, felt the need to hunt and capture Elliot once they realised he was in the forest. While I realise that there needed to be a threat to Elliot in the story to make the audience get emotionally involved I just felt hunting him, claiming ownership and presumably making him a tourist attraction wasn’t the way to go. I already feel that humans are the virus that are killing this earth and everything on it and I’d rather not be reminded of that fact in a fun children’s movie.

Overall, the remake of Pete’s Dragon is fun, charming and was a delightful watch. With great performances from a hugely experienced cast this surpasses the first movie by some distance as children of today can enjoy the story and friendship of Pete and Elliot.

7/10

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