Cary, NC – Disney continues the recent trend of remakes of their beloved classics with Pete’s Dragon, and like The Jungle Book and Cinderella, this particular version proves to be a successful and surprisingly emotional update of the 70s original.
A Remake That Stands On Its Own
Director David Lowery thankfully only uses the original film as a guideline, not relying on our nostalgia to bring about emotional reactions, but creates a genuinely touching friendship between a boy and his dragon.
Wonderful Story of Friendship
More than anything else, that is what makes this film so great: if we as an audience don’t buy into the Pete and Elliot relationship, then this movie just doesn’t work.
But Lowery makes it happen. Elliot the dragon isn’t the most photorealistic CGI creature but that’s not what the film is going for. Elliot is a fully realized character, with emotions galore. And newcomer Oakes Fegley, who stars as Pete, does a lot of heavy lifting acting beside something that isn’t really there; a great performance from such a young, talented actor.
I’m also surprised at just how emotional the film was willing to go. Now, this is still a Disney film of course, so it’s all pretty gentle, but Pete’s Dragon isn’t afraid to go for it. I always appreciate when a children’s film such as this doesn’t try to manipulate its young audience, but instead allows them to feel and process for themselves. For instance, the film’s bad guy, played by Karl Urban (Star Trek Beyond), is never really portrayed as a bad guy. Yes, he is in charge of cutting down the forest that Pete and Elliot call their home, but he’s just doing his job and director Lowery never paints him as an evil person. It’s a small touch, but in this case, a little goes a long way.
Best Family Film Of The Year
I was really surprised by Pete’s Dragon. A truly great film about friendship and acceptance. These might be bold words, but I think Pete’s Dragon may be the best family film of the year. Absolutely worth seeing.