“I know the forest like the back of my hand. I wouldn’t have missed a dragon.”
“You missed Pete.”
Mr. Meacham, a woodcarver, delights local children with stories of a mysterious dragon that lives deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. His daughter Grace believes these are just tall tales, until she meets Pete, a 10-year-old orphan who says he lives in the woods with a giant, friendly dragon. With help from a young girl named Natalie, Grace sets out to investigate if this fantastic claim can be true.
I’ll just get this out of the way right now: Yes, I was a fan of the original 1977 musical version of Pete’s Dragon that was a campy animation-meets-live action flop for Disney. I watched it every time it played on HBO back in the day. I was also 7 years old. Looking back, of course it didn’t age well, but I still find some kind of whimsical charm to the whole thing. I still break out in a rousing chorus of “Bill Of Sale” whenever I’m grocery shopping, for whatever reason my brain decides on.
It was around the time when I watched Tim Burton’s “remake” (really a sequel, but whatever) of Alice In Wonderland when I thought that, of all the Disney movies to remake, Pete’s Dragon could befit with the ol’ patented Burton dark whimsy. Well, part of my fanboy desire was realized, as Pete’s Dragon was remade as more of a straight family drama, only by some guy whose previous body of work I don’t recognize, and not by Tim Burton. Ah, well. At least this time around, they done good with Eliot and the gang.
And by that, I mean they went the wise route to keep the spirit of the original movie, but craft its own tale independent of the previous one. This is not a musical (I doubt there’s anyone who’s disappointed with that, really),
the story is set on the other side of the country, and the means in which Pete finds his giant green companion…well, I don’t want to give away too much. Let’s just say, the opening few minutes aren’t going to be very pleasant for the small kiddies.
The story was pretty good, if not a bit ham-fisted with the inevitable environmental message; the child actors were quite good, meaning I didn’t find their performances annoying. And, there were some moments that managed to tug on my blackened heartstrings a bit. Fortunately, the theater was dark, and I made up for that by blasting away a bunch of kill-bots with my youngest nephew afterwards. You read that right.
Of course, the main attraction of this redux is Elliot himself. Obviously not the Don Bluth animated cartoon, but also not your traditional dragon with the scales and the…well, scales. Elliot is more of a big, ginormous puppy with green fur and wings. And the ability to make himself invisible in a way that was rendered at least plausible.
Maybe the only disagreement I have with the movie is the placement of the two main guys: I would actually believe the creepy kid from American Beauty to be the man more concerned with hunting Elliot, than have New Bones from the rebooted Star Trek movies be the…well, not necessarily a bad guy per se, but at least the guy who is clearly the heel in the story. You cannot manipulate me into hating Karl Urban, movie. YOU CAN’T MAKE ME.
Anyway, the Pete’s Dragon redux is a surprisingly good movie. It had the spirit of the original, while crafting something much better, with some fantastic effects and a brisk adventurous story, in my estimation. Worth a look-see.