Walt Disney films have a way of warming the heart and touching the soul. With its newly released film, Pete’s Dragon, Disney manages to once again entertain fans and bring magic, wonder and feel good feelings to all.
Pete’s Dragon (2016) is a remake of the classic 1997 Disney film of the same name. However, this modern fantasy – adventure film follows a rather different path than the original classic.
The story begins with a young Pete (Oakes Fegley) left orphaned and alone, deep in a forest, after his parents are killed in a road trip accident. Cold and scared, Pete meets Elliot, a mystical green dragon who takes the little tyke in.
Flash forward to a few years later, the film’s main plot begins to unravel as we are introduced to key characters of the film such as Mr Meacham (Robert Redford), who provides the town’s children with entertaining tales of the Mulhaven dragon; Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), Mr Meacham’s daughter who loves the forest and works as a park ranger; Gavin (Karl Urban), the brutish construction manager who doesn’t believe in magic, Natalie (Oona Lawrence), Pete’s first human friend, and Jack (Wes Bentley), Natalie’s father. These characters are each uniquely played and whose motivations are well portrayed by the actors who play time, making the events of the film feel almost real.
The film essentially follows Pete on his journey from being a lonely forest boy, with only a dragon as a companion, to being accepted into a community and cherished by his new friends. Not to mention, the film depicts the lack of faith and issue most people have when it comes to believing in magic and the unexplained.
Pete’s Dragon is remarkably different when it comes to Disney films made for younger audiences. Unlike other films such as The Jungle Book and The BFG, Pete’s Dragon opens with a rather dark introduction, wherein we watch as Pete is made into an orphan. This kind of heartbreaking loss is unusual in the opening credits, not that I can remember from other Disney live action films anyway.
I enjoyed the way the film transitioned, allowing viewers to experience all kinds of emotions. Emotional hooks in a film usually get to me and determines whether I loved or hated a film. In the case of story and narrative, Pete’s Dragon certainly was touching. This touching, sympathetic feeling we have for Pete stems from his adorable personality and cute characteristics. Pete certainly is portrayed extremely well in the film.
Visually and graphically, this remake made the film feel realistic. Elliot, the dragon, is computer generated and looks brilliant, with mannerisms and behaviours deemed normal for any wild animal. The only major difference is that, in being more realistic, the film was limited and restricted in terms of what Elliot could do. Unlike the original classic, in which the film was a mix of both animation and real life, the CGI Elliot could not get away with doing ridiculous things so as to maintain that image of reality. The original film however, wherein Elliot was simply a cartoon dragon, allowed Elliot to do silly things and not raise questions on authenticity.
A light-hearted and touching tale of wonder, imagination and magic, Pete’s Dragon certainly utilised the Disney formula well. The story, the graphics and the characters were all in tune with one another, driving the relatively happy film forward toward a conclusion that will leave viewers satisfied and wanting more.
Pete’s Dragon is out in cinemas on 15 September, 2016!
*For more pop culture and anime rantings and reviews, check out my blog, The Vanguard.
Released: August 2016
Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Running Time: 102 minutes
Director: David Lowery
Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence, Robert Redford
Distributed by: Disney