Review: “Pete’s Dragon” Takes Flight But Doesn’t Soar
I’d just like to start off by saying how odd it is that there even is a “Pete’s Dragon” remake in the first place.
I mean I know Disney is trying to remake basically all of their movies and that there are people who very much enjoy the original, but those would be those who grew up with that, right? I mean do most young kids today really know that film well enough to be excited that there’s a remake? I suppose they could be excited by the trailers which were at least interesting, but what about the actual film does it work?
Cinematics (Plot, Acting, Cinematography, etc.) – 4
Before we get into the plot, let me just say that this is a very loose remake. It is called “Pete’s Dragon” and there is a kid named Pete and his dragon named Elliot who can turn invisible and… that’s about it as far as I can remember. Though to be fair I haven’t seen the original in a LONG time so I may be forgetting other similarities, but even if I am there probably aren’t much more. So what I’m saying is if you’re a big fan of the original, it’s important to remember this is a loose adaptation going in. The new plot is that after surviving a car accident that killed his parents while on a camping trip, young Pete is left to fend for himself in the woods and by pure happenstance comes across a friendly dragon and the two become best friends and each other’s guardians. One day Pete wanders away to see some humans (Bryce Dallas Howard, Karl Urban and Wes Bentley) and gets taken back to the nearby town. While they try to learn the mystery of this boy, Elliot the dragon goes to find him. Luckily for both he can turn invisible, but is still eventually seen by Karl Urban’s character who decides he must capture it. So the question becomes will he and will Pete decide to leave his dragon or not? If you think that sounds rather standard it’s because it is. Now another thing I remember about the original was it was weird. This remake feels like what you would learn in a screenwriting class. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is noticeable.
The acting is all decent from all of the actors, but nothing that will change anybody’s life. Bryce Dallas Howard is delightful as always. Robert Redford is the pro he always is and finds that perfect balance that just makes you happy to see him still in films. The young actor for Pete is pretty impressive for a kid who must have been acting against nothing for most of the shoot. Karl Urban hams it up as such a stereotypical villain. They try to make him into a more complex person, but there are too many moments of “a dragon?! Let’s capture it muwhahaha!” to rise above it. There is some pleasure to be gained from how silly it is, but I don’t think that was the point, especially with the ending. Visually it’s standard-again nothing that will shock you. Elliot the dragon is a very well done effect. Not the most realistic I’ve ever seen but for the fact that it’s a pretty out there design that they chose, it doesn’t look half bad. Personally I like the furry sort of dragon if for no other reason than it’s something different. The score follows suit with everything else as being well-done, but nothing amazing. Though with the state of scores these days that’s kinda the best we can hope for.
Entertainment Value – 3
These are always the toughest reviews to write folks. I can’t say that I’m in love with this and want to go around singing its praises, but at the same time I certainly didn’t hate myself for sitting there in a theatre watching. I was somewhere in the middle, interested enough to see it til the end but if something happened, the theatre exploded halfway through and I was never able to see another copy I could live… assuming I survived said explosion. Some of the jokes were funny and sometimes Karl Urban’s over the top performance worked in a so ridiculous it’s hilarious kind of way. The best thing this film did was get me to buy the friendship between Pete and Elliot and make me want to own or at least hangout with a dragon like him. I really was my happiest watching this film when Pete and Elliot were just hanging out in the woods-plot-wise nothing important but I would have been perfectly happy with this over the actual plot. It has a slower pace which I appreciated, but I doubt many modern kids will be able to get in to.
Rewatchability – 2.5
I can’t say that I ever plan to re-watch this, but one day temptation of curiosity may get the better of me and I’ll re-watch it. However, what’s more likely is that I’ll see it again because one of my little sisters or nephew will want to watch it. It’s not something that worries me.
- Entertainment Value
“Pete's Dragon” is not a bad film but also not a great film either. An almost completely different version to the original. Its slower pace is refreshing in a kids film, but may be a little too much for the kids in the audience. Enough of a likable energy permeates the film to make it engaging enough not to leave midpoint, but nothing terrible exciting to beheld by those who stick it out. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.
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