Sunday, October 09, 2016

Movie Review - Pete's Dragon

Pete's Dragon (2016)
Starring Oakes Fegley, Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oona Laurence, Wes Bentley, and Karl Urban
Directed by David Lowery

The original 1977 Pete's Dragon doesn't hold a particularly fond place in this Disney fan's heart simply in that it wasn't a staple in my household growing up.  I was hoping that would bode well for the prospects of Disney's 2016 remake, but unfortunately the updated version was a bit of a disappointment.  Although it was well acted, I found the film to be rather dull, lacking enchantment considering the somewhat whimsical subject matter.

While driving with his parents through the forests of the Northwest United States, a horrible car accident occurs and leaves six year-old Pete the only survivor.  Wandering the woods with no one to help him, Pete comes across a green, furry dragon whom he names Elliot and the two become close friends.  Six years later, an eleven year-old Pete (Oakes Fegley) is discovered by Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), a national park ranger, who brings the young boy back to town.  Despite having the luxuries of modern-day conveniences, Pete misses his friend Elliot, but he has a difficult time convincing people that his dragon/friend/caretaker is real.

Throw in some bad (though not necessarily "evil") loggers, Grace's somewhat kooky father (played by Robert Redford), and a bit of an unnecessarily destructive climax involving a bridge collapse and you end up having a film that feels like it needed a little more focus in order to succeed.  As mentioned, the acting across the board is quite good, but the cast isn't given much to work with here.  This is a kid's movie about a dragon for goodness sakes -- it should scream "fun" and "enchanting," but director and co-writer David Lowery's film lacks any charm and fancifulness.  While Lowery crafts a film that looks good and creates a believable atmosphere for its characters (including the computer-generated Elliot) to inhabit, I found myself not wanting to spend all that much time with them with the heavy dreariness that seems to permeate throughout the piece.

Once again, as is often the case, Disney's live-action remake machine disappoints.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

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