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Alas another remake from the Disney Vault has been remade. Pete’s Dragon is a remake of the 1977 musical film of the same name; this remake however? Tells a different tale of a boy who lost his parents and is living in the woods with a giant green Dragon named Elliot. One day when a group of lumberjacks are on a job in the woods, the manger’s daughter named Natalie see’s Pete and chases after him into the woods, until she gets hurt and that’s where Pete gets discovered. They take him in and try to solve the mystery at how he’s been surviving for six years in the deep wood. This story is not only original, but also this how remakes should be made. If you’re going to remake something (looking at you Ghostbusters), then do it completely different! Writers Toby Halbrooks & David Lowery (who also directed the film) have achieved at making the story they wanted to make, and it was executed very well. It felt like a real movie, no explosions, no overuse of magic, real human characters, and fantastical creatures. For a children’s movie, espacially for a Disney one? They deal with life and death very evenally. At times the plot can be predictable, however the relationship between Pete and Elliot over shadows it, because it is so heartwarming, and so joyful to see. You relate to Pete, because Elliot is not only Pete’s guardian? He’s also Elliot the Dragon’s best friend, a boy and his dog (or in this case Dragon) scenario.
The film stars Oakes Fegley as Pete, Bryce Dallas Howard as Grace, Robert Redford as Meacham (Grace’s father). Karl Urban plays the antagonist of the movie named Gavin, the brother of Wes Bentley’s Jack the manger of the lumber mill and the father of Natalie played by Oona Laurence. Now Gavin is not really a villain, and that is a great approach for the story. He’s just a guy who wants to be famous for capturing a Dragon. He doesn’t want to hurt him, and he doesn’t want to kill him. He just wants to be like what we all want to be? To be remembered for discovering a Dragon. Selfish? Sure. An asshole? Absolutely, but evil he is not, and he loves his brother and even cares for Pete’s wellbeing. But make no mistake he just will do anything that is necessary to get that Dragon. The rest of the cast just plays it safe, like Robert Redford, who plays Robert Redford, and they don’t really do anything to stand out, except for newcomer Oakes Fegley, who plays Pete.
He brings so much heart and sadness to the character, which excels light years from the original actor Sean Marshall. Although Fegley doesn’t have many lines in the film, he doesn’t really need it, because he his acting mostly through expression, which is actually really hard to do and can get really silly if done by a mediocre actor. The voice over by John Kassir as Elliot was good; it was mostly a throwback to the original Dragon from the 1977 movie.
Director David Lowery did an amazing job at bring emotion and charm to the movie. He also made a very beautiful movie, that felt more like an indie movie then a Disney movie. Disney movies tend to be clean and sometimes over saturated. But not Lowery, he makes sure people, actually look like people, and keeps things muted and dirty. He also captures a Midwestern town set excellently. The CG on Elliot the Dragon was great, but then at times mostly in the woods, the CG starts to dip in quality. The lighting in the woods was fantastic, and the editing kept the pacing on track. It never felt slow, and streamlined the story perfectly. It didn’t need to drift off into a subplot that goes nowhere? Unlink certain movies with superheroes at the box office. The music by Daniel Hart and the song choices for the movie fit the tone very well. Lowery has delivered a new sleeper Disney classic, that will be cherished by new film fans years to come.
Rating: Full Price