The House of the Mouse brings the 1977 original into the new century replacing the 2D animated dragon with the best CGI they can muster. Here a young boy gets lost in the woods after a car accident takes the life of his Mom and Dad. As he wanders through the thick forest with the wolves breathing down his neck he makes a new friend, the giant green dragon that he calls Elliot. Six years pass and their friendship is the cornerstone of their lives but a logging company is about to change everything for both of them.
I’ll start off this by stating that I have just a vague memory of the original. I remember watching it, enjoying it, and that the mix of live action and 2D animation was something that made me happy. So I’ve no great love for the original but when you hear of a remake of anything you wonder why bother. I know people who do love this film and at the press show of the film we have a security team that makes sure that no one is using their phone and one of this team was a fan of the original film. I love talking to security guards at any event as they always great stories to tell and the ones who police the press screenings are some of the nicest Security that I’ve ever met. Today this man met me with a friendly hello as usual and we both thought that this was going to be a film we couldn’t understand the need to remake. We both dreaded going through this film and after the film we both agreed that we were wrong.
Pete’s Dragon 2016 is overly sentimental but reminded me of being a young boy and going to see Flight of the Navigator, or The Goonies. We look at these films today through different eyes and forget the first feeling of awesome. I just sat there feeling a lot of different emotions, in the best possible way, as the adventure of Pete and Elliot was laid out. I felt like I was a kid again.
The story has changed and Disney do what they do best, they attack your emotional base and make you care about the characters, the humans and the dragon. They’re not shy about showing you the dragon, while other films would be. The film brings together a great cast including Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Karl Urban, and Wes Bently. Pete is played by Oakes Fegley and he reminds me of the young boy from The Good Dinosaur a lot. The film rests on his performance and that of the CGI character of Elliot. You should think of Elliot as more of a huge puppy with wings rather than a scaled dragon. There is such a nice feeling to the film and even the villain of the film, played by Karl Urban, isn’t really a villain, just a typical man doing what most men in his position would do.
The gorgeous countryside and forestry of America is shown to its full beauty and you understand how a little boy could just get lost out there for that long without anyone finding him. The action scenes are magnificent and stunningly shot.
Okay so here’s what is what. Some people will tell you it’s overly sentimental and put it in a way that having sentiment and having emotional films is a bad thing. It’s not. We’ve become displaced in our minds as humans, we’ve forgotten that we can be awesome, we’ve forgotten that movies and music bring us together like nothing else. Pete’s Dragon is a wonderful film that makes you feel every emotion in the book. There is nothing wrong with a 40 year old man sitting in a cinema crying over a giant green furry dinosaur, I know this, as I’ve done it.
While this update has little to do with the original movie it should be judged on its own merits. The film can’t be faulted for production values, I’d watch Robert Redford reading from a menu for two hours, as All is Lost proved. Don’t let this film pass you by on the big screen. It’s what the big screen was made for. Feel like a kid again and just be for 104 or so minutes. Trust in your friend Gar.
Director: David Lowery
Writers: David Lowery, Toby Halbrooks, Malcolm Marmorstein, Seton I. Miller, S.S. Field
Stars: Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oakes Fegley