High expectations never come with most remakes in an industry that seems to have lost its originality. That could be said of Disney’s remake of the 1977 classic of the Pete’s Dragon, however, the 2016 version came as a surprising delight albeit a little cheesy in places.
Director, David Lowry has given Pete’s Dragon a whole host of charm and sentimentality, your heart will soar with fulfillment as connections are made with not only the extremely likable characters but with the message it sends that family doesn’t always necessarily have to be blood-related. Lowry has also delivered a spectacular visual display in its setting, the vast amount of the colour green, forestry and mountains of the New Zealand landscape make for a perfect location.
Mixed with emotion, Pete, played by newcomer Oakes Fegley, is orphaned quickly in the film when his father explains what an adventure is while driving and his mother explaining he is a very brave boy. A deer darts out in front of the car from the side of the road causing the car to flip off the road killing them instantly but leaving Pete virtually unscathed. Literally, straight away a big green dragon appears and instantly takes Pete under his wing to comfort him in his hour of need.
The majority of this story is set six years later, The dragon, which Pete has named Elliot, and Pete have become the best of friends as they prance around the forest playing with each other, having a ball. The Dragon is almost dog-like in its looks and his behaviour, extremely loyal to his companion and as dopey as a big fluffy dog. However, their life together is soon unearthed when Pete stumbles across the people from the lumber mills that are cutting down their trees.
Enter Bryce Dallas Howard as the maternal forest ranger Grace and her family, her father played by Robert Redford who swears to have seen a dragon in the woods when he was younger, and her husband Jack (Wes Bentley) part owner in the lumber mill along with his more scrupulous brother Gavin (Karl Urban). As Grace takes Pete under her wing to find out who he is, Gavin, on the other hand, runs into the Dragon and makes it his mission to be the one that caught a dragon.
The plot has a gentle touch with subtle bouts of humour, mostly at Karl Urban’s expense when he gets covered in Dragon snot. The live action sequences seem effortless and we have a cast that gels perfectly. Newcomer Fegley has an almost serene vulnerability about his performance, there is absolutely no doubt we will be seeing a hell of a lot more from this child actor in the not too distant future. The sad aspect surrounding this version of Pete’s Dragon is that it will probably go unnoticed by many as Disney’s marketing have recently seen a big push towards the likes of Finding Dory. We certainly hope that just isn’t the case.
Pete’s Dragon is out in cinemas August 12.