Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Disney has done it again. Pete’s Dragon is a remake of the 1977 film of the same name. Directed by David Lowery, it stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence, and Robert Redford. The story is set in the 1970s, where Pete (Oakes Fegley) and his parents get into a car accident where Pete is the only survivor. He ends up being chased into the forest by a pack of wolves and becomes surrounded until the wolves are scared off by a huge, green dragon. Pete is scared at first, but comes to see that the dragon is very friendly. Pete names the dragon Elliott after the character in his favorite book and the two of them become the best of friends and live together in the forest.

Six years later, Pete, who is 10 years old now, spots a group of lumberjacks and park rangers around where he lives. He gets spotted and followed by a girl named Natalie (Oona Laurence). When Natalie tires to follow him up a tree and hurts herself, her father, Jack (Wes Bentley), and Park Ranger Grace Meacham (Bryce Dallas Howard) come looking for her. When they notice Pete, he runs off only to be caught by Jack’s brother Gavin (Karl Urban) and they take him back to town. When Elliott realizes that Pete is missing, he gets worried and starts looking for him but at the same time catches Gavin’s attention.

It’s Jungle Book meets the Good Dinosaur with a dash of King Kong in Disney’s reboot of their own classic. The venue has changed from the sea coast to the mountain forest and takes a more serious tone updating the old cartoon dragon with a CGI one. This film is fantastic and filled with emotion. From the beautiful imagery to the John Williams-Esque score to the 70’s setting, everything in this film is done wonderfully. Everyone plays their role to perfection especially the younglings, Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence. They had great on-screen chemistry and they bounced off each other pretty well. Even Elliott, a CGI dragon made me feel so emotional. He was a big, green, dragon version of a dog. It’s truly amazing what film can do with CGI characters especially ones like Elliott. He was full of love and he was so adorable, he felt so real, I had to remind myself he wasn’t. Bryce Dallas Howard does great as well. Karl Urban’s character was probably the most difficult to swallow in this movie, he stretches the whole range of character emotions only to give us that knowing nod and smile at the end on the bridge. The adults weren’t useless or dumb for once.

This film is filled to the brim with charm and heart. The work done with the dragon, Elliott, is tremendous, from the CGI to the way he interacts with Pete. Pete’s Dragon is a terrific family film about belonging & looking out for those you love. Disney is killing it with these live action remakes, this film was certainly magical. Even though the film is a little conventional, Lowery definitely has an eye for the whimsy and the fantasy, and knows how to ground it in reality. I dare you not to cry during this film. SuperSam gives it a 9/10. 

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