Earlier this week, I was invited to a special screening of Disney’s latest, Pete’s Dragon. I’ve been waiting a long time to see this ‘remake.’ The original was one of my favorites as a child. And while I knew that this remake was nothing like the original, I was still excited. Pete’s Dragon was about imagination, gaining courage in the face of adversity, and learning who your real friends are. I was under the impression that the core values would still be there and we would see Pete rise to the challenge of growing up. And with those thoughts, I saw the movie. I think I am the only person in the world that was not impressed with Pete’s Dragon.
There. I said it. I’ve been fighting it all week. Seriously. I wanted to like this film, but I just can’t. Don’t get me wrong, there were MANY beautiful elements in this movie, and I will talk about those, but overall, the movie left me blah. In a surprising turn of events, my movie buddy, NDK, read the book and flat-out refused to go see the movie. So, it became a date night. After the move, NDD (Neurotic Disney Dad) said he didn’t think I was human because I did not shed one tear. Me – tearless? Yes, that is the truth.
So let’s talk spoiler-free for a moment. The film’s landscape is stunning. The Pacific Northwest holds breathtaking views. The beauty of the trees and the serenity of the forest were completely captivating. As for the acting, I cannot say enough positive things about the actors. Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence, who play Pete and Natalie, really held their own throughout the film. Fegley’s performance made it easy to believe that Pete lived in the forest with a dragon for six years. Bryce Dallas Howard was the perfect soft-spoken park ranger. Robert Redford did a magnificent job as Howard’s father, the town’s storyteller.
The film is fairly quiet. The setting is peaceful, and the movie’s soundtrack reflects that. There are no peppy numbers that you will sing the whole way home. This is not a musical. There are no dance numbers. There are a few laughs, but this version lacks all of the whimsy from the original, which almost made it borderline depressing.
Let’s talk dragon. Elliot, looked incredible, but, in my opinion, lacked the character that the original Elliott had. (*No, there is no typo here. 1977 Elliott = 2 t’s. 2016 Elliot = 1 t.) Keeping in mind that the stories of the original 1977 movie and today’s version only share the elements of an orphan boy and his dragon, it was easier to fall in love with 1977 Elliott than 2016 Elliot. I felt he lacked that animated charm that was easy to bond with. There were moments where Elliot tried to be aloof like his 1977 counterpart, but because of his real-life appearance, his clumsy movements caused him to appear “drunk” in a few scenes. I wanted to like him, but had trouble getting past the fur. His coloring was darker, which fit in with the forest theme, but made him a potentially darker figure in my eyes. Just by looking at him, he can appear scary. But, I assure you, there is only one scene that he is actually scary, and it is fitting. Otherwise, he is a nice dragon.
This movie does have a message, spoken by Robert Redford in the beginning of the movie. “If you only see what’s in front of you, you miss the magic.” I tried to see past the film in front of me and see the magic that lied in store. The magic is loving, believing, and being the best person you can be. In this sense, the movie is cute, and tolerable.
Go ahead – tell me I’m crazy in the comments below. Just be nice about it, k?
*Disclosure: I was invited to a screening of the movie in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.