Pete's Dragon - Review
Pete's Dragon is, like its predecessor, The Jungle Book, a much better film than it deserves to be. Disney has shown that it does not take the reimagining of its animated classics lightly, and 2016's Pete's Dragon is no exception.
This new version of Pete's Dragon diverts from the original in almost every way, (which is a good thing) choosing to tell a much more simple story about love, family, and learning to let go. Pete is forced to make many tough decisions throughout the film, often resulting in one party being pleased while the other is left wanting. While this is a kids movie, it contains all the depth and themes of a great young adult film, in a good way. Pete's journey from scarred, vulnerable orphan to a brave, compassionate young boy is enough to carry the film, possible only through Oakes Fegley's standout performance.
Oakes Fegley as Pete is a joy to watch, in every sense of the word. His adorable charm and try-anything mantra make him an extremely watchable character, since we never know what he's going to do next. Karl Urban plays a fun, over the top character who might be considered the villain, depending on how dastardly his actions come across to you. He does at least drive the plot forward, without ever feeling like a shoehorned character. While Elliot the dragon is not played or voiced by anyone, his performance is certainly the most captivating of the film. This film chooses to remove Elliot's ability to speak, causing him to rely on grunts, snarls, and facial expressions to communicate. This could have turned out very badly, but Elliot feels all the more real for it. While he is a giant green dragon living in a seemingly normal world, the director and everyone else involved bring the dragon to life in ways I never could have expected. Robert Redford mostly sticks to the sidelines, narrating the beginning and end of the film. He takes a more prominent role near the climax of the film, and is given much more room to shine. Bryce Dallas Howard continues to prove herself as one of the most versatile actresses of today, taking on roles in films like The Help, Jurassic World, and The Village. She plays more of a mother figure in Pete's Dragon, and it suits her perfectly.
The landscape and tone in Pete's Dragon are both consistently beautiful, with the latter aided by some very well chosen songs. The real gem of the film is Elliot, the gigantic green fire breathing dragon that feels everything a person does. He is animated in a way that appeals to both the childlike sense of wonder much of the audience still feels drawn toward, and the modern day rendition of what a gigantic green fire breathing dragon would look like.
Pete's Dragon is next on the list of surprisingly great Disney remakes, while still being wholly unique. Bolstered by great performances and an extremely endearing dragon, 2016's Pete's Dragon may be better than the original.
Pros- Location, Songs, Elliot, All of the Actors