Pete's Dragon


Reviewed by: Susanna Krawczyk

Pete's Dragon
"This is a reliably entertaining kids’ movie with just the right number of tear-jerking moments to make it solidly Disney." | Photo: Disney

There are a few films that I always remember my brother and I had taped off the telly when I was wee. Among the most-watched were Labyrinth and Return Of The Jedi, but anything we had, in the days before movie channels and streaming were commonplace, my brother and I watched repeatedly. 1977’s Pete’s Dragon was one of them, and yet it was a movie we found hard to love. It was a bit wacky, a bit odd and a bit cold.

This remake though – although it honestly is more like a reimagining, as it doesn’t adhere to 77’s plot at all – is much warmer. Gone are most of the wacky hijinks with a budget-extending invisible dragon, and in their place a lot more about friendship, longing, being brave and being strong enough to ask for help as well as to give it.

Copy picture

The plot, as I’ve said, is wildly different from what you might expect, and is much more emotional (strong emotions from the start, to paraphrase the warning you get when Four Weddings And A Funeral comes on TV). It’s ably carried by young star Oakes Fegley, helped out by a slightly ridiculous roster of adult stars, from a motherly nature-loving Bryce Dallas Howard through strong and bearded Wes Bentley, wise-grandfatherly Robert Redford, and finishing up with Karl Urban playing a mean forester who really loves cutting down trees and really hates getting sneezed on by dragons.

I saw the film with two small people, one eight and one three, and I have to say that it didn’t fully keep the three-year-old’s attention. She liked Elliot though, the titular (green and furry) dragon, and I have to agree with her; he was far more engaging and likeable than 1977s ginger-haired goof.

This is a reliably entertaining kids’ movie with just the right number of tear-jerking moments to make it solidly Disney. New Zealand standing in for a fantasy version of the northern USA looks magical, and the understated soundtrack helps with the emotional warmth mentioned above.

Take any under tens you know to go and see this, although mileage may vary for the very small.

Reviewed on: 03 Aug 2016
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An orphan boy befriends a dragon.
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Read more Pete's Dragon reviews:

Amber Wilkinson ***1/2

Director: David Lowery

Writer: David Lowery, Toby Halbrooks, Malcolm Marmorstein, Seton I Miller, SS Field

Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oakes Fegley, Oona Laurence, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Marcus Henderson, Aaron Jackson, Phil Grieve, Steve Barr, Keagan Carr Fransch, Jade Valour, Augustine Frizzell, Francis Biggs

Year: 2016

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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