Starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oakes Fegley, Oona Laurence
and Robert Redford
Directed by David Lowery
Reviewed by Paul and Patrick Gibbs
2016 has been a banner year for Disney in terms or quality and, for the most part, at the box office. "Pete's Dragon", the latest of studio's remakes of their classic titles, extends the streak of the former and stands a good chance of contributing to the latter. Of course, the term "classic" is stretched a little further here than it was with some of the previous films: the original 1977 version of "Pete's Dragon" is undeniably a beloved part of many childhoods, including ours. But let's be honest, it's an overlong, uneven, and slightly odd film that wasn't terribly well received upon its initial release (it carries only a 48% positive rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and a better but hardly outstanding 61% from audiences). And unlike the other films Disney has recently remade, it's hardly timeless and doesn't have a large following among the kids of today. This undoubtedly is why the Mouse House felt comfortably taking a much less literal approach to this remake, taking the basics of the story and updating then to a 21st century setting.
The effects are supervised by WETA wizard Joe Letteri, who already brought a gentle creature to life this summer in "The BFG", and Elliott is another great piece of work from this digital Harryhausen. The character is both impressive and lovable, and if he didn't work the film wouldn't. But he does, and "Pete's Dragon" is an utter delight either for fans of the original who are willing to go with a different take on the material, or with newcomers being introduced to Pete and Elliott for the first time. It continues to establish Disney's live action remakes and the most unlikely franchise to rank among our current favorites. If they keep them up as good as the last three have been, we're more than happy to see them keep coming.
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