REVIEW: Pete’s Dragon

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Review by Dustin Heller

Pete’s Dragon is the new Walt Disney Pictures adventure film based on the classic 1977 animated film of the same name.  This re-imagining was written and directed by David Lowery whose only other directing credit is the superb Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.  The film stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes FegleyWes BentleyKarl UrbanOona Laurence and Robert RedfordPete’s Dragon is rated PG for action, peril and brief language and is scheduled to be released in the Disney Digital 3-D and RealD 3D formats.

Pete (Fegley) is a young boy who has just lost his parents in a terrible car accident.  He is all alone in the woods of the Pacific Northwest until a green dragon named Elliott comes to save him.  Pete lives in the woods with Elliott for six years without any human contact until one day he sees a forest ranger named Grace (Howard) that eventually takes him in.

Pete tells his story of living in the woods with a dragon, reminding Grace of a story her father used to tell her as a child about the green dragon that he encountered in the woods when he was a boy.  Grace agrees to take Pete to his home in the woods and meet the dragon, but they are not the only ones interested.  Elliott will do everything in his power to always protect Pete, but in the end it might just be Elliott that looks to Pete for protection.

The magical world of Disney is back, as Pete’s Dragon knocks it out of the park as this summer’s best family movie.  Not only is the movie thoroughly fun and entertaining, but it has a certain feel of nostalgia that took me back to my childhood and the great family movies from the 1980s.  If I have seen the original Pete’s Dragon from 1977, I can honestly say that I have no recollection of it, but this new film makes me want to rush out and buy it for my son.

The drama comes across as somewhat heavy-handed, but it really works when paired with all the action and adventure.  Disney is really on to something with the live-action adaptations of their classic animated films and Pete’s Dragon is the next great one.   I genuinely believe David Lowery is a huge talent and we’ll be seeing many more great films from him in the future.

I guess we had to wait until school was back in session to get the finest family film of the summer, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from heading out to the theater this weekend for a little Disney magic.

Grade:  A

Pete’s Dragon opens in theaters on August 12, 2016

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