Directed By: David Lowery
Produced By: James Whitaker
Screenplay By: David Lowery & Toby Halbrooks
Based On: Pete’s Dragon (1977)
Premiered On: August 12, 2016
Distribution By: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Considering that this is, arguably, the fifth live action adaptation to a previously made Disney film, albeit one that was otherwise entirely live action save for the titular dragon, I’m beginning to think that a new title for these types of films are necessary. I’m thinking… Disney Reimagining Films or something to that effect but that’s neither here nor there.
Whereas a majority of these Reimagining Films are in essence the story told from an alternative point of view or with only marginal, to major, tweaking here and there, Pete’s Dragon is akin to Maleficent insomuch that this film only shares a few common elements from the original and is otherwise an entirely unique story. Much like the first film, the story is about an orphan boy named Pete and his dragon named Elliott.
That’s where the similarities end.
For you see, contrary to the first film, we actually see how a five-year-old Pete ends up an orphan and ends up in the care of a dragon that he names Elliott. There is no abusive adopted family baying, or singing if you could call it that, for his blood nor is the major focus being about Pete trying to find himself a home in a town that otherwise is also baying for his blood.
On that note, while this film thankfully lacks the amount of sheer idiocy that was abundant in the town of Passamaquoddy, I’m looking at you concrete construction guy, there is still a bit of… childish naivety and lacking of common sense around Pete.
Case in point, Pete is brought to a hospital after he is accidentally knocked unconscious and nobody, not anybody, entertains the idea of watching over him in case he wakes up and escapes through the window, which he does do and when the young girl who helped to find him points this out, the doctor actually has the nerve to ask “Who’s gone?”
Who else you flipping moron?
What gets even weirder, and admittedly more ridiculous, is that Pete dressed in a freaking hospital gown and looking like he spent several years in the wilderness is running through the streets and nobody tries to stop him or help him. Heck, he accidentally stumbles into a couple out on a walk with their dog whom barks at Pete who barks right back and the woman actually has the gall to yell at him not to bark at their dog.
Lady, sort your priorities a bit here.
Of course, this is after Pete hitches a ride at the back of the school bus and is seen by another kid literally hanging on the back exit door, and what does said kid do. Sticks his tongue out at Pete.
… Wow. Just… wow.
Pete. You might actually have been better off in the woods, I am not kidding.
Credit is where credit is due though there are some humans whom are far more intelligent than those around them. Case in point, Grace, a park ranger and the one who is taking care of Pete, talks with her dad about Pete’s tale of being in the woods with a dragon.
Her dad has told her, and many others who cared to listen, about there being a dragon in the woods and him having seen it himself. She says outright that she knows the forest like the back of her hand and could not have possibly missed a dragon to which her dad replies, rather blandly, that she missed Pete. Unsaid was the fact that he was there for six years.
Cool Old Man: 1
Know-It-All Park Ranger: 0
Yet, despite this abundance of silliness, which is sad to say par for the course for any film geared towards children, I still found myself captivated by where the story was going and was pleased to find it going in a sensible, if a bit rushed, direction.
Elliott, having noticed Pete’s absence, tries to find out where he’s gone and accidentally attracts the attention of the local lumberyard workers who get the oh so delightful idea (please note my sarcasm) to go hunting after him, thinking he’s some bear or something. After some admittedly hilarious shenanigans Elliott reveals himself fully to them and manages to scare them off but has the surprisingly brilliant idea to follow them to find Pete.
Of course, much like that fraud of a doctor in the first film, one worker in particular, the brother to the lumberyard’s foreman, gets it into his head to try and capture Elliott, which he succeeds in thanks to the help of his fellows despite the loud protests of Pete and the people whom he brought with him to see Elliott, one of whom is an old man whom had seen Elliott once before when he was a young man.
What follows is… not wholly original I’m sorry to say but still an exciting sequence of events that involve getting Elliott back to the woods and away from harm. The chase comes to a jarring halt when Elliott, rightfully fed up with everyone and everything, leaps his way atop a bridge and sets it aflame before being stopped by Pete.
I shan’t spoil how the film ends but I will say that it took two twisty turns that I honestly did not see coming. Overall, I give the new rendition of Pete’s Dragon… five out of five stars.
Yeah, there’s some… alright a lot of ridiculous behavior on the humans in this film but it’s not them whom we should be focusing on. Contrary to the first film, and most others that put together a human with a dragon, it is not a tale about a boy and his dragon it is about a dragon and his boy and believe me, you’ll note the difference while watching this film.