Jungle
Pete's Dragon

Pete's Dragon

Movie
Director(s): 
In Theatres: 
Aug 12, 2016
Grade:
B-
Running Time: 
102 minutes

Pete’s Dragon was never one of Disney’s big hitters, even back in 1977 when the original live-action/animated film came out, but it’s gained somewhat of a cult following since its release. Like Cinderella and The Jungle Book, Disney continues its line of remakes with an updated and musical-free Pete’s Dragon that aims to tug on your heartstrings and make you fall in love with a whimsical dragon all over again.

 

After a brutal car accident leaves the young Pete (Oakes Fegley) stranded all alone in the wilderness, he stumbles upon a green-furred dragon and the two become friends. Six years later and Pete and the dragon, who he’s named Elliot, live and play together deep within the forest, but that all changes when loggers start moving inward. Eventually Pete is discovered by forest ranger Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) and is taken into town. As Pete struggles to adjust to the normalcy of society, Elliot misses his friend and ventures out of the forest to find him. Not everyone is like Pete, however, and a dragon’s presence is sure to turn some heads.

 

Pete’s Dragon is an absolutely gorgeous film. If you loved the realism of the live-action The Jungle Book, you’ll love this equally if not more. Elliot is essentially a gigantic green puppy that can fly, spit fire, and go invisible. He doesn’t talk, but the animators at Disney have done a fantastic job at displaying his emotions through his actions, especially in the small details of his facial expressions. You can clearly see when he’s happy, playful, or frightened. He’s a lot like Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon. Oakes Fegley does an excellent job interacting with him as well, and you really get the sense that dragons are part of this reality. There is a lot of heart in the film, that’s for sure.

 

Kids will easy fall in love with Pete’s Dragon, but I can’t help but feel adults will be somewhat bored. While I loved every scene involving Elliot, the story left more to be desired. It often felt like I was watching a Lifetime original movie, only with a much bigger budget. There were plenty of the same beats in the story, complete with a swelling score for dramatic effect. Individual scenes felt engaging, but I was bored with the story overall. It’s simple and borderline generic, and in a world where dragons are real you can’t help but ask for something a bit more complex.

 

There is a sense of amazement and joy in Pete’s Dragon, but it’s mostly reserved for younger audiences. While it’s still a considerable upgrade over the original and well worth seeing, I was just hoping for something a little more magical.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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