Pete’s Dragon (2016)

This film stars Mowgli and his giant, green, fuzzy dog with wings.


Just kidding.  There is no Mowgli in this movie.

Pete’s Dragon is the latest live action remake of a classic Disney cartoon like The Jungle Book and Maleficent.

Young Pete (Oakes Fegley) was stranded in the forest after a tragic car accident killed his parents.  The child ran across the dragon and they bonded.  Pete named the dragon, Elliot, after his favorite book, and then spent the next six years living with Elliot in the forest.  However, when Pete was discovered by Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), she brought him to her home and discovered the hidden secret of Elliot.

Fortunately, Grace’s father (Robert Redford) had also had an encounter with the dragon years ago and had been telling hyperbolic tales about it since.  Grace is not the only person who discovered Elliot’s existence.  Forester Gavin (Karl Urban)has a negative interaction with the dragon (who was looking for the missing Pete) and sent him on a mission to capture the giant creature.

Now, the movie definitely has some good moments.  The dragon was good (though it was way too much like a dog) and Pete does a solid job as well.  The movie definitely tried to bring the feels on for the audience as it puts the dragon and Pete through their emotional paces.  It does an admirable job of showing how much the relationship between Pete and Elliot meant to them both.  I might have liked some kind of scene showing the early years with them instead of just jumping 6 years after they met, but that is a minor point.

The rest of the cast was really underwhelming.  There was very little development of any of the secondary characters in the movie after Pete and Elliot.  Even Grace does not feel as fleshed out as she could have been.

The CGI of the dragon was very good, but I did not understand why the film chooses to make the dragon furry and doglike.  I suppose that decision may just be a way to sell more plush toys, but it does not service your story at all.

Speaking of the story, it is right out of the typical Disney playbook for these live action films, right down to these kids, Pete and Grace’s step daughter Natalie (Oona Laurence), defying authority and helping the creature escape.  It had a very Witch Mountain vibe to it.

I was not a huge fan of this, but it was okay.  The dragon was fun, and I thought the kids did a good job.  I wish the story was tighter and that the dragon wasn’t a bog dog.  It was a sweet time at the theater that families would most likely enjoy together.

3.1 stars

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