Pete’s Dragon is a remake of an older Disney film of the same name from 1977 (yes, the thumbnail for this review is from that version). Apparently, this film was a favorite of many children that grew up during in the late-70’s, but I had certainly never even heard of it until now. Since you know that I only just now learned that a half-live action half-animated film that has the same exists, you’ll know that I did not come into this movie with any feelings of nostalgia or even expectations for this movie. I truly had no idea what to expect going into this film, which is often the way I prefer to see films.
This remake is directed by David Lowery, who, from the looks of his IMDB page, has made his name from writing, directing, and editing… short films? Personally, I’m a huge fan of short films if they fall into the Sci-Fi or Horror genre, but Lowery’s don’t seem to be either one of those. Regardless, with the exception of a few big name actors, this was going to be a totally new experience for me, so I was excited!
Pete’s Dragon does its best, but ultimately cannot offer anything original. The best way I can sum up the story is like this:
Whoever came up with the idea for Pete’s Dragon is someone who gets really emotional while watching films but hates sad endings and loves every single Disney movie ever. So this person is watching King Kong (I don’t care which version, pick one), and at the end of the film, they say to their self through a stream of tears and a box of tissues, “why can’t they make this movie be more happy. Like, instead of a giant ape, it could be a giant…puppy…that can fly. And instead of it being hopelessly in love with a woman, it could just be like a boy and his dog, or something. And then instead of it dying at the end, it can fly away to a safe place with other giant flying puppies and everyone can live happily ever after.”
This writer will then come up with a script that is like every “Boy and his Dog” movie ever, except this time the dog can fly and they insist on calling it a dragon for some reason… oh, and there’s a hint of Tarzan thrown in there somewhere. Then some brainless producer will pick up the script and say, “hey guys, this looks pretty good,” and they’ll make the movie without realizing that a totally similar and vastly superior film already exists called The Iron Giant.
Seriously though, for any of you that are huge fans of The Iron Giant, like I am, the similarities are almost laughable. And for those of you thinking about going to see this film that aren’t huge fans, watch The Iron Giant instead because it is amazing.
This film doesn’t really offer much for anyone involved with the exception of Pete. Oakes Fegley… is that really his name? Really? Okay then. Oakes Fegley plays Pete and let’s just say that we definitely shouldn’t be expecting to see him in any huge roles in the next few years. He’s not very good.
Robert Redford’s narration and just the things his character says are pretty forced, because no one constantly talks like they’re trying to tell some epic campfire story 24/7.
Bryce Dallas Howard and Karl Urban are okay, I guess. But their characters really aren’t given enough substance for them to really shine.
There’s nothing unique about Lowery’s direction style, and I don’t have anything to complain about in the editing department, but I do have to harp on Disney… again.
Disney, you can’t put something out like Jungle Book that is, still, in my opinion, nothing but a show of their animating powers, and then act like that never happened. I understand not having as big of a budget; but by god, if you’re going to set a new standard for animated characters in live action films, then you better friggin stick to that standard. Elliot, the dragon, is nothing compared to what we saw in Jungle Book earlier this year.
X-Factor: 5/10, Dragon fire can’t melt steel beams
There’s a scene where Elliot sits on top of a bridge and breathes fire down onto the road below him for several continuous minutes. For some reason, the entire bridge that is composed of steel, concrete, and asphalt, starts to crumble. Why , you ask? Because we needed a few seconds of actual action in a movie with a dragon in it. How? I have no clue.
I’m willing to bet all the money in my pocket, which is…. hang on a sec…. 56 cents, that you have seen a movie that is 97% similar to Pete’s Dragon. It’s not very good, but it’s not overtly bad, it’s just there. Like I said before, find The Iron Giant online or on DVD and watch that instead because it is an excellent animated film that anyone can love.