This is not your Dad’s dragon. With the trend of live remakes of Disney animated classics, this Pete’s Dragon is a reinvention of the classic story released in 1977. Still live action, but a CG dragon instead of a cartoon one. There’s no singing, no Helen Reddy and no cartoon dragon. At its core, it is simply a story of a boy and his dragon, and it’s told wonderfully. Starring Bryce Howard, Karl Urban, Robert Redford and Oakes Fegley as Pete, this retelling touches on all emotions.
In a classic Disney fashion. the story starts out with a tragedy, but quickly turns, revealing the magic despite the situation. Pete and Elliot’s bond is tender and fun. When the real world moves into Pete and Elliot’s little sanctuary, all relationships get tested. Howard’s character Grace and her relationship with her father (Redford). Grace’s relationship with her fiancé Jack (Wes Bentley). Jack and his brother Gavin (Urban). Even the titular relationship between Pete and his dragon. Ultimately everyone reassesses their own thoughts about themselves and their actions.
I got the opportunity to watch it in Real 3D. If you get the chance to experience it, please do. The beautiful cinematography by Bojan Bazelli is breathtaking and in 3D it’s even more so. Shot in New Zealand, he takes full advantage of the landscapes and forest settings. He really does make every scene a painting. The look of Elliot is awesome, I loved the way they decided to make him a furry dragon instead of a scaly one. Somehow, he feels more relatable in looking more huggable.
David Lowery directs the performances with touching nuance. The relationship between Pete and Elliot is sweet but not cloyingly so. There are silly saccharine moments, but not enough to be a turn off. Script co-written by David Lowery and Toby Halbrooks is simple but that is the beauty of it. The concept of Elliot the dragon’s character, whoever was responsible, is what stood out for me. I LOVED what they did with Elliot. Not just the CG (which was phenomenal), but his personality and how he communicated.
I hope Pete’s Dragon gets all the kudos it deserves. It’s a feel good rollercoaster that will have you laughing at times and sometimes on the edge of your seat. Bring your tissues, and expect to want your own dragon by the time you leave the theater.