Pete’s Dragon

 photo petes_dragon_ver2_zpsi7ubdra4.jpg photo starrating-3stars.jpgPete’s Dragon is a difficult movie to review for me. On the one hand, it’s sweet and pleasant and the kind of wholesome entertainment that you can bring the whole family to see. What makes this a bit of an anomaly is that it’s live action and rated PG. All too often pictures classified as such, are solely cartoons. Pete’s Dragon is refreshing.  It satisfies a niche that often goes unfulfilled in today’s marketplace. The Jungle Book and The BFG were other films that came out this year that also fell into this category. I enjoyed them both equally. Which is to say, they’re fine, but they didn’t wow me. The big reason being that there just isn’t much story to captivate the mind. Interestingly enough, the same issue plagues Pete’s Dragon as well.

Pete’s Dragon is actually a remake of the heretofore forgotten 1977 Disney musical that starred an animated beast. I only mention the original because the filmmakers have chosen to bestow this movie with the same title. Despite the fact that the chronicle concerns the friendship between a child and a dragon, the two have very little in common. In contrast to the previous 70s musical incarnation, the current reimaging of the tale is a dark, almost moody piece about a sullen youngster who loses his parents in a car crash in the thick of the woods of the Pacific Northwest. That child is 10-year-old Pete and he’s played by Oakes Fegley. Pete is a curious personality. Nat King Cole once sang “There was a boy, a very strange enchanted boy…” and he is indeed something of a nature boy, having to fend for himself amidst the forest environment. It is there he meets Elliot. This is the name he gives the dragon that lives there. They become close friends.

Pete’s Dragon develops into a sentimental bit of fluff. It certainly helps that young actor Oakes Fegley is extremely natural and the CGI creature is realistic as well. Elliot is not your typical dragon. Instead of scales he has fur. He can even disappear when he deems it necessary to hide from danger. He’s also exceptionally loving and protective. Their relationship is not unlike that of a boy and his dog. It’s this bond that forms the foundation of the drama. The two unquestionably have a warm rapport but it’s a wispy premise on which to build an entire production. Oh sure once other humans discover Elliot, they threaten his safety, but you knew that was going to happen 20 minutes into this fantasy. Everything unfolds in a predictable fashion. This “boy meets pet” fable was released to near universal acclaim. I expected a saga with a much higher level of creativity.  I liked Pete’s Dragon, but I didn’t love it. I really wanted to love it.

08/16/16

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10 Responses to “Pete’s Dragon”

  1. Ah, welp. This puts a nail in the coffin as far as me going to check this out in theaters. It needed to be something special and it looked like it was sort of generic to me and this review confirms. Definitely will rent though.

    On a more positive note, I read something interesting about child actors on the blogosphere and about how they seem to be on the rise. Either I’m paying attention to all the right movies or young talent really is surging lately. And it applies to all genres and maturity levels. Pete here, the girl in The Nice Guys (I feel bad that her name escapes me at present), MacKenzie Foy, the girl who plays the Book Thief. Lots of impressive roles from youngsters

    • Honestly my review is more reserved than most. And that might have been part of the problem going into this. The reviews oversold this film: You will cry!! Wondrous!! Best family film of the summer! I expected something kind of amazing. There are a lot of films that do this same idea much better. It’s still pleasant.

  2. smilingldsgirl Says:

    Oh man. I thought it was right up there with movies like Black Stallion, Old Yeller, Sounder, Where the Red Fern Grows except boy and his dog was boy and his dragon. Sure it is a formula film but it is executed so well with such heart. I loved Elliot and I think both child actors were superb. One of my favorites of the year for sure.

    • You’ve definitely named some of the greatest child/animal movies ever made. I’d also add The Yearling to that list as well. But this didn’t even come close to capturing that relationship for me. I’d also add that so much more happens in those movies too. I still enjoyed it fine. It’s cute. It just didn’t reach that standard of creativity I require to give it a higher rating. 😇

      • smilingldsgirl Says:

        It may not be quite as good as those but it reminded me of them. It had that old fashioned earnestness. I’m glad you enjoyed it fine

      • smilingldsgirl Says:

        I really do think it is in that company. Oh well.

  3. I found Pete’s Dragon to be sweet, pleasant wholesome entertainment. I liked that it was rated PG and had some emotional heft to its story. I teared up at the beginning when Pete’s parents died. I think I was a little more taken with it than you though. I found that it had good things to say about unconventional families and I liked that the film’s villain was more than just a cartoonish jerk. He wasn’t evil for the sake of it, just a bit confused and misguided. I thought the film’s effects were fantastic and I loved how they rendered the dragon with its fuzzy green fur, expressive eyes, and dog-like mannerisms. Plus I liked how Robert Redford was woven into the narrative with his folktale that actually turned out to be true. He gives a great performance and so does Oakes Fegley. I loved how Fegley continued to hop around like a tree kid even when he moved in with his new family. I loved it. What a breath of fresh air after so many awful summer movies.

  4. I’ve never seen the cartoon, so I had nothing to compare this to. That might be a good thing. This was such a wholesome movie. Very cute, fun and harmless. I really liked it. 3 stars

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