Pete's Dragon

"Excellent"

Pete's Dragon Review


This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended cartoon and live-action. By contrast, this movie feels almost unnervingly realistic, with seamless effects that bring a gigantic green furry dragon remarkably to life. With strong characters and a pointed story, this is a great movie for kids. And grown-ups might find themselves getting caught up in it as well.

Six years after being lost following a car crash, 12-year-old Pete (Oakes Fegley) is still living in the deep forest, playing happily with his dragon companion Elliot, who's like an enormous cuddly green puppy dog. But sawmill worker Gavin (Karl Urban) is travelling deeper into the woods. His brother, the mill's owner Jack (Wes Bentley), is urging caution, perhaps because his fiancee is the park ranger Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard). Then one day on the work site, Grace spots Pete in the trees and brings him back to civilisation. No one believes his fanciful tales of life with a dragon, just like they didn't believe Grace's father (Robert Redford) decades ago. But Grace's sparky daughter Natalie (Oona Laurence) does. And she decides to help Pete get home.

What follows is a fairly low-key adventure, as various factors come into play, mixing threats against this primordial forest with threats against Pete's bond with Elliot. It's a simple structure that immediately resonates with the audience, mainly because director-cowriter David Lowery keeps everything within the realm of believability. And the actors deliver similarly authentic performances as people trying to grapple with a rather startling discovery. Urban has the most thankless role in this sense: the hothead who immediately makes all the wrong decisions for selfish reasons. But he brings some complexity where he can. And he's nicely balanced by Howard, Bentley and a seriously twinkly Redford. Meanwhile, both Fegley and Laurence deliver solid turns as believably resilient kids.

There are moments when Lowery seems to undersell the story (the opening car crash is so oblique that children might not immediately grasp that Pete's parents have died). And sometimes the sense of wonder is a bit overpowering. But other scenes are exhilarating, including a terrific climax that builds to an explosion of genuine peril. The earthy special effects never draw attention to themselves, leaving us to enjoy the growing relationships. So in the end, this is a riveting story that reminds us how important it is to keep our minds open to the wonders of the world around us.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for Pete's Dragon:



Pete's Dragon

Facts and Figures

Genre: Kids/Family

Run time: 128 mins

In Theaters: Friday 12th August 2016

Budget: $60M

Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures

Production compaines: Walt Disney Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 48%
Fresh: 11 Rotten: 12

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: James Whitaker

Starring: Oakes Fegley as Pete, as Grace, as Gavin, as Grace's father, as Jack, as Sheriff Dentler, Oona Laurence as Natalie, as Adult Pete, Tim Wong as Carruth, Esmée Myers as Pete's Mom, Annabelle Malaika Süess as Little Girl, Marcus Henderson as Woodrow, Phil Grieve as Bobby, Jim McLarty as Ranger Wentworth, Gareth Reeves as Pete's Dad, Augie Davis as Zellner

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Advertisement

New Movies

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review

Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one...

Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

City of Ghosts Movie Review

City of Ghosts Movie Review

This award-winning documentary plays like a thriller as it traces the work of a group...

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Advertisement
Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.