‘Pete’s Dragon’ is the latest in the ever expanding list of Disney live action remakes. This film is a remake of the 1977 version which mixed live action and animation. Earlier in the year Disney successfully breathed new life into one of their most famous films, ‘The Jungle Book’. Whilst ‘Pete’s Dragon’ isn’t regarded as quite the classic ‘The Jungle Book’ would be it certainly has its fans and Disney had a job on their hands getting the mix of live-action and CGI just right.
In terms of the live-action cast ‘Pete’s Dragon’ sees Bryce Dallas Howard switch up chasing (or being chased by) dinosaurs for dragons, this time minus the high heels. She’s very good in her role and plays a complete reverse of her character in ‘Jurassic World’ being brilliant with children and really endearing. The closest thing we get to a villain in the film comes in the form of Karl Urban. What I loved so much about his character was that he’s not really a bad guy, he isn’t over the top just for the sake of fulfilling that role. His character is very grounded and his actions make sense in the real world making the film seem that bit more authentic. Robert Redford also stars, kind of acting as a narrator, for the bookends of the film anyway. His age adds a nice balance to the cast and he’s good as the grandparent figure whose filled with wild stories of mythical creatures living in the forest. Wes Bentley completes the grown up cast, playing Dallas Howard’s other half. He never gets a great deal to do to be honest but it was nice to have a recognisable actor in this smaller supporting role which he performs well in. ‘Pete’s Dragon’ obviously needs a Pete and he came courtesy of child actor Oakes Fegley. He was really wonderful here and constantly impressed as he, just like Neel Sethi in ‘The Jungle Book’ remake, did a lot of his acting alongside a character who wasn’t actually there. Oona Laurence, best known for her role in ‘Southpaw’ also appears, she puts in a competent performance and offers a live-action chemistry with Fegley which adds some variation to the film.
Of course one of the crucial factors for the film was always going to be the look of Pete’s Dragon, Elliot. I loved the design of Elliot, instead of a scaly and mean looking exterior he has a coat of fur and a goofy personality, almost seeming like an oversized dog which is fitting as in Pete’s case he’s definitely mans best friend. In terms of the narrative you’ve probably seen or read similar tales before this. It’s the classic boy meets beast story, there have been many before ‘Pete’s Dragon’, ‘Free Willy’ and ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ spring to mind immediately but there are many other. Then of course there is the original 1977 classic which is the subject of this remake. However, the unoriginality doesn’t matter so much because there is a wonderful simplicity to the whole thing. The film never tries to be anything its not, it’s never over long or drawn out and there is a real flow to the story. It’s full of heart from the word go but never over does it which could always have been a danger with the stripped back narrative and short running time but it gets the mix of elements right. There is a cracking soundtrack too with what I believe are quite a few original songs that seamlessly tie scenes together and are fitting for the setting of the story.
So although ‘Pete’s Dragon’ may seem familiar in some ways this shouldn’t prevent audiences from enjoying the film. The cast are all sound in their roles and have believable chemistry on screen. The friendship between Pete and Elliot which is central to the film works effortlessly and is one of the many reasons that ‘Pete’s Dragon’ is such a treat.
Rating – 8/10
Question: What’s your favourite human/animal friendship from film?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
Thanks for reading this review and please let me know what you thought about the movie! Leave a comment below or drop me a tweet over at @HCMovieReviews.