Coming to theaters August 12, “Pete’s Dragon” is a live-action re-imagining of the 1977 film of the same title. The movie features a noteworthy cast, unique visuals and boundless charm, and is definitely worth seeing in theaters.
The film opens on a road trip with Pete (Oakes Fegley) and his parents. After tragedy strikes, Pete is adopted by a massive and mysterious creature in the forest, who he calls Elliot. Pete and his dragon live in the lush mountains of the Pacific Northwest, until Pete is discovered by Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), a park ranger. After Pete is taken from the forest and Elliot is discovered, Pete must rescue his oldest friend and reconcile his newfound family with his old one.
“Pete’s Dragon” is atmospheric and whimsical, and provides a welcome break from the usual summer Blockbusters. Filmed in New Zealand, the landscape of the film is lush and gorgeous. Much of the movies nostalgia and sentiment is born from Grace and her father, Meacham’s (Robert Redford), relationship with the mountains and forests near their hometown. The New Zealand countryside provides the perfect backdrop for a story about a group of people’s relationship with nature and with each other. While this film doesn’t carry over the original songs from the 1977 original, the music in “Pete’s Dragon” is still noteworthy, and matches the setting perfectly.
The standout of the film was Pete’s dragon, Elliot. Where other movies fall short of creating larger-than-life protagonists, sacrificing humanity for visuals, the creator’s of “Pete’s Dragon” have blended stunning visuals and character without the usual creep factor. Elliot stands out from others of his kind seen in TV and on film, as the creators replaced hard scales and sharp fangs with green fluff and expressive features.
“Elliot has a very distinct look in the original film, including an enormous jaw,” said David Lowery, the films writer and director. “And there was something about his design and that characteristic specifically, that I really liked. And I wanted him to be furry… very furry.” Lowery continues, “He’s fantastical, he’s exaggerated, and he doesn’t feel like something that belongs in this world.”
“Pete’s Dragon” also features a cast that blends award winning and experienced actors, with young talent. Robert Redford, Bryce Dallas Howard and Karl Urban all share the screen with Oakley Fegley (Pete) and Oona Laurence (Natalie). Fegley and Laurence deliver charming performances, and warrant the time the film spends developing their friendship.
“Pete’s Dragon” is an excellent live-action remake that smoothly incorporates fantastical elements into quaint day-to-day life. The beautiful setting, unique imagery and endearing characters make it a breath of fresh air during a summer of oppressive action films.