Pete’s Dragon- Film Review
The new Pete’s Dragon is a remake of a 1977 Disney classic animation and is quite nostalgic. It brings back fond childhood memories of one’s favourite blanket, eating cookies and watching fantasy films on TV during school holidays. The story oozes mystical beasts, forests and feral children raised by animals. These wonder kids have acrobatic abilities that take your breath away as they do somersaults in mid air.
The new film diverts from the original where the main character Pete, is a nine-year-old orphan escaping from his brutal adoptive parents, the Gogans, with his only friend, a cartoon dragon named Elliott. Pete and Elliott successfully escape to Passamaquoddy, Maine, and live with Nora, a lighthouse keeper, and her father, Lampie.
In the remake the action has been relocated from seaside Maine to a lumber town in the Pacific Northwest. Pete (Oakes Fegley), a 10-year-old we first meet when his is about 4, is an orphan, the result of a car accident that dispatched his parents but left him largely unscathed. Wandering the primeval forest, Pete stumbles upon the title character, which he names Elliot after a lost puppy from his favorite picture book.
The dragon does not talk, instead letting cuddling and free rides on his back signify its good intentions. But Pete raises a good question: What does this creature eat? We never see it munch on as much as a daisy despite engaging in calorie burning activities as flying in and out of cloud cover. A small point, perhaps, but for the kind of magic that the movie is reaching for, the details matter as the mystical features in Pete’s Dragon seem to be lacking.
The plot thickens however when Pete is discovered by the family of a kind forest ranger played by (Bryce Dallas Howard) as Grace. When Pete, a somber,wild-haired little boy who has forgotten all about toothbrushes and windows and balloons is ripped from the forest and thrust into the city, he doesn’t even have the words to explain his loss. He crouches in alleys and howls, longing for his real-life dragon friend Elliot whose existence everyone else seems hesitant to believe in.
Pete’s characterisation is filled to the brim with sentiment. Since this is a movie for children, there is nothing wrong if it draws a few tears from young viewers especially during the heartbreak moments when Pete laments the loss of his dragon friend. Separation is a key emotional element, leading to a shattering climax when Pete eventually saves his dragon friend’s life.
This story revolves around Pete and his dragon. The other characters are mostly supporting material and come across as rather flat or stereotyped.
The narration by Redford is excellent, giving the movie the depth that can only come from a sweet grandpa telling incredible stories.