Love Bridgnorth’s film reviewer Charlie Pugh thoroughly recommends the remarkable remake of this children’s film which is now showing at Bridgnorth Majestic Cinema daily : 1:15pm, 3:35pm and 6:00pm
When forest ranger Grace Meacham (Bryce Dallas Howard) befriends an feral orphan named Pete (Oakes Fegley) claiming to have a large furry dragon named Elliot as his best friend, she must rally her father (Robert Redford) and her future daughter-in law Natalie (Oona Laurence) to find the truth about Pete and his friend. But Natalie’s scheming uncle Gavin (Karl Urban) has much more sinister plans for Elliot..
Disney have had a successful run rebooting their animated classics in live action with Cinderella and The Jungle Book, so of all the films that they could have remade the 1977 live-action/animation hybrid Pete’s Dragon is one of the most surprising choices. Unlike the last two ‘unforgettable classics’; Pete’s Dragon has faded in obscurity and has not aged well with the times. So it’s a joy that David Lowery has managed to achieve a extremely rare feat and made a film that completely surpasses the original in almost every way.
The characters of Pete and Elliot and the theme of finding a few family remain but this remake has had a real facelift. Pete is a feral child who slowly remembers his infant life and the forest itself being represented as a forbidding, yet whimsical place and there are with numerous emotional moments thrown in for good measure. Child actors Oakes and Oona give good performances, and Robert Redford is a charming presence as a kindly old storyteller.
Weta Digital’s job of making a fur-covered dog-like dragon is absolutely stunning with inspiration taken from Japanese animation in his look and his dog-like mannerisms.
Overall, Pete’s Dragon is one of the most surprising successes of 2016. In a world dominated by disappointing remakes and reboots, this film stands out as one of the best giving depth and heart to an less- than perfect original made during the dark age of animation.