Title – Pete’s Dragon (2016)
Director – David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints)
Cast – Oakes Fegley, Bryce Dallas Howard, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence, Wes Bentley, Robert Redford
Plot – Orphaned at a young age, Pete (Fegley) survives in the woods thanks to his friendship with kindly dragon Elliot, with the two living out a wondrous life together until a logging company threatens to unearth Elliot’s existence and Pete must seek the help of park ranger Grace (Howard) in the human world he’s been so long removed from.
“You might be the bravest boy I’ve ever met”
Review by Eddie on 30/08/2016
Now this is how you do a family adventure/fantasy film.
Where fellow recent family films such as Steven Spielberg’s misguided and glaringly obvious The BFG haven’t, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints director David Lowery has hit the jackpot with his big budgeted Pete’s Dragon, a reimagining of the little known Disney film of the same name from all the way back in 1977 that in many ways feels like the type of film Spielberg himself would’ve made during his peak period in the 1980’s through to the 1990’s.
Instilled with a sense of wonder, heart and joy that can be enjoyed by those of any age, this Pete’s Dragon is the year’s most fully formed piece of family storytelling that will go down as one of the Summer’s biggest successes when Box Office receipts are removed from the equation entirely.
Likely to become a new kids favourite once it hits the home video market, Lowery’s film is about as polished as films of this ilk get, with the filmmaker showcasing the visual flair he produced in the quiet constrains of Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and everything else about the production continues on Disney’s exemplary run of recent films in this space (other than The BFG), that have seen the House of the Mouse record all new levels of financial and critical successes.
Lowery had the clear benefit of a standout cast willing to join him for the reimagining of the sweet and often moving tale, about the orphaned Pete and his friendship with dragon Elliot that is threatened by the intervention of humankind (the film carries a never intrusive message of conservation and finding oneself in the world), with newcomer Oakes Fegley hugely impressive as the Mowgli like Pete and backed up by the ever likeable Bryce Dallas Howard, the having-a-blast Karl Urban (playing the films version of a villain) and the nice support from the likes of Robert Redford, Wes Bentley and fellow child success Oona Laurence.
It’s not hard to see that these recognisable actors enjoyed bringing the fantastical story of Peter and Elliot (himself a fine feat of CGI wizardry that will have children wishing they too had a dragon guardian) to life and with their commitment to the project evident from the word go. Pete’s Dragon becomes more than just a mere piece of family entertainment but a wholesome film that will bring everything from smiles to possible tears as the journey takes it various turns and pivots.
For lack of a better word, Pete’s Dragon is a lovely family film and a must see big screen experience that feels a cut above the usual offerings in the marketplace thanks largely to a considered telling of a marvellous little story filled with fine performances and brave directional choices from Lowery (the film’s confronting opening few minutes testament to this), and as it stands Pete’s Dragon’s is one of the year’s best offerings regardless of genre and a breath of fresh air in a hugely disappointing Summer of tentpole films.
4 ½ sneezes out of 5